While visiting a beautiful group home I was introduced to a gentleman named Bob. He was a successful businessman and loved outdoor activities. A recent head injury changed his life forever, but he obviously still had places to go.
Bob was sitting in his Geri-chair wearing his favorite outdoor adventure hat and attempting to propel his chair across the room. The wheelchair brakes were hindering his forward motion and his body was beginning to slide out of the seat.
The caregiver was beginning to lose her patience and said, “we need to get him in a recliner quick, before he falls.” I asked if we could try something and allow him to pedal around in his chair? She agreed with much reservation, but Bob was finally free. He immediately pedaled to the large TV where music was playing from his high school days. He listened attentively and even swayed to the rhythm of each song.
Next, he moved to the back of the living room where a wall of windows provided a wonderful a view. The sun was shining, and the birds were busy at the feeders. I could only imagine what was going through his mind, but the smile on his face was priceless.
Then he pedaled towards the kitchen where he bumped into a weight bearing column, and the caregiver said, “that’s it.” The adventure was over for Bob that day, but I am hoping the caregiver was able to see the importance of allowing him to move. Even though there is a head injury or memory problem, we need to remember that people were created to move, investigate, learn, and most importantly have purpose.
Safety awareness is frequently impaired, but curiosity can be driving their need to keep moving. Do yourself a favor and take time to plan activities for and with them for as long as they are able. You could take walks, play games, or bake together. As time passes their abilities will change, so adjust the activity to complement their deficit so they can still feel successful and find enjoyment.