My husband had a stroke that caused the loss of balance and walking. He refuses to use a walker. What should I do?

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He has short term memory loss and incontinence. He has fallen hurrying to the bathroom and fell in his bedroom and fractured 3 vertebrae. For a person who showered every day he doesn't like to shower very often. We have been married 57 years and he still is the love of my life but I don't know how to get him to use a cane or the walker or shower more often. Please give me suggestions. THANK YOU for this column and everyone's wonderful help.

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Veronica- excellent suggestions. Falls/injuries will happen and at some point the game will be over. However any thought/help/product to prolong a person's safety as long as possible is usually in everyone's best interest. If I can help anyone with mobility related issues feel free to contact me.
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He is the master of his own destiny, a common male trait. He will fall again and eventually the hospital will be admitting you too unless you admit he needs skilled nursing care and let him stay there.
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If all else fails and you are against a roadblock map out the routes he takes. bedroom to recliner ,bathroom, kitchen etc Place substantial pieces of furniture along the routes so he can take a few step from each support piece As suggested above install handholds in other places and rails in the bathroom. A raised toilet seat and or frame over the toilet and possibly a commode at the bedside to cut down on rushing to the bathroom and/or a urinal at the chair side. It can be disguised in a container. An occupational therapist will have other suggestions.
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Great idea, Ginach. We call my mother's rollator a pushmobile. It makes it sporty.

irisaz, if your husband refuses to use a cane or walker, talk to your doctor about having someone come by to install safety rails. Often they will be covered if the doctor prescribes them. If not, they are rather inexpensive. You can have the rail installer come by and do a safety inspection to see where rails would be helpful. They are particularly helpful in the bathroom and in hallways. Unfortunately, they aren't any help on open floors.

Does your husband have a rollator or a simple walker? If he has a simple walker, maybe he would like a sporty pushmobile better.
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My father at 87 fell and wound up in the emergency room. The doctor prescribed a four prong cane and we took it home with us. My father would not use it when we got home. He had such a defeated look on his face anytime I asked him to go get his cane and use it. Then I got the idea to call the cane "Gus". Somehow that worked with my father. He has been using 'Gus' ever since and has not fallen in over a year.
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I am guessing that using a walker or cane is for old ladies not real men. Can you get him a fancy cane that he might be proud to use with an interesting handle that fits his hand. Maybe even have one custom made from a twisted stick from the woods. This makes it an interesting accessory rather than a sign of his frailty. Some walkers have wheels and brakes which make them easier to use.
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That really is hard! After 57 years you are likely to have a feel for what approaches work best with him. I suspect things have changed a bit since the stroke, though.

Do you know why he won't use the walker? He forgets ... he thinks it isn't dignified ... he is in denial that he needs it ... he isn't confident it helps ... what? Knowing why might give you some clues for dealing with it.

My husband fell with or without the walker, so he wasn't too eager to use it. He liked using his wheelchair much better -- he knew he wasn't going to fall, and he got pretty good at navigating around the house.

The fact is, the walker is intended to decrease falling, but 47,000 older people are treated each year in U.S. emergency rooms for falls associated with walkers and canes. Try asking the doctor to authorize in-home physical or occupational therapy to be sure that your husband learns to use his walker or cane correctly.

(My mother's walker has a white wicker bicycle basket attached in the front, with a design that lights up as she moves. She gets a kick out of it, and can carry a few things around with her. It also has a beverage holder.)

Good luck!
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Thank you Chicago1954. My husband has been in rehab but they didn't have him walking much but using a colostomy bag and a wheel chair. When he comes home from rehab or hospital stays he gets much better at home but he still won't use the walker to keep from falling. A dilemma.
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When my brother in law had a slight stroke, it caused so much tingling on one side of his body, that a shower felt like a million bees hitting him. He would shower, but it wore him out. Perhaps it is the same with your husband.

Has your husband been to rehab, to teach him to use the cane and walker, or has he had rehab to improve his walking? I think a stay in rehab, would do you both good.
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