A few years ago I was working with a lady and her caregiver in a lovely home at the end of a tree-lined cul-de-sac. The picture window in the great room at the back of her home looked out onto a park-like setting with a collection of bird feeders and baths at varying heights. Feathers fluttered, birdseed scattered about, and splashes sparkled in the sun as those birds had a blast out there! And the delight for my client was clear . . .
She got it right. I felt honored to be her occupational therapist in home health care to assist in problem-solving some transfer techniques as her condition continued to deteriorate. I’ll call my patient “Sandy.” She once worked as a Vice President of a large local car dealership. Knowing her neurological condition was progressive, Sandy and her husband designed and built a completely accessible home long before the term age-in-place became mainstream. I recall zero thresholds to enter the front door, wide doorways and hallways, an elevator for accessing the second floor, and more. One key element was missing, however: a mechanical lift to assist her petite caregiver in transferring Sandy from her recliner chair to her modified wheelchair. Sandy didn’t want one however, which posed a grave risk for injury to her and her caregiver. They decided to have Sandy’s husband continue to complete the transfer with maximum assistance.
I quickly learned that the focus of Sandy’s treatment would need to be on the tasks that mattered most to her. Our treatment plan included training her caregiver in safe methods to provide Sandy passive and active-assist range of motion exercises, beginning when the patient was still in bed. This positioning protected Sandy’s shoulder girdle and allowed for better body mechanics for her caregiver providing them. When Sandy was out of bed, her focus changed to sensory delights for her abilities that remained intact: a large T.V. screen cable-connected to her laptop and the outside world, hard candies, and her feathered friends just outside her window. The last one was my favorite and the one that came to mind as I looked out my own sliding glass door this afternoon.
Splish-splash, they were taking a bath! First one then two then one chasing away a third with the flaps of her dripping wings, oh my! I was resting after a long morning of gardening at our local extension office when this simple pleasure caught my eye and my heart. I wondered how Sandy was doing on this very pretty Fall day? Oh how I wish she knew how much she taught me about savoring moments like these. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share this insight with you as well. Please take a moment to enjoy something like this today too, k?