My friend Vickie is an occupational therapist who has been in practice for about 35 years. She has always worked with severely disabled and other very challenging patients. Her specialty is assisted technology, which provides patients with adaptive devices, like voice-activated equipment, that enables them to function as independently as possible. Passionate about her vocation, Vickie always sees achievable possibilities where others imagine only insurmountable obstacles.
I thought of my dedicated and talented friend when I read a post on ChangingAging.org entitled, “Reaching for a Higher Possibility.” The author, the main caregiver to her mother, was concerned when her mother’s stroke recovery had setbacks and she was unable to get her to walk. She shared that an occupational therapist (OT) persevered where others had been unsuccessful and had her mother walking again. But after six months of progress, her mother went into a decline, becoming too weak to walk.
Vision of Possibility
The same OT returned to make adjustments to her mother’s wheelchair to make it more comfortable. On his next visit, he told the patient he had envisioned her standing and walking a few steps. He was able to convince her to walk for five steps, set a goal of increasing the number of steps until she could reach the bathroom. What the daughter/caregiver believes she witnessed was the OT’s “vision of possibility” that inspired and encouraged her mother to walk.
Family members and caregivers working with seniors often have a set of characteristics or even limitations that they’ve used to label and define the senior. It’s important to be reality-based and not push those in their care too hard, but the idea of imagining a higher possibility might serve to encourage both seniors and caregivers to be open to a completely different perspective.