I recently took my 83-year old mother to visit a dear friend whom she had not seen for 20 years. On our way to see our friend, I had a moment of panic, because I hadn’t factored in the flight of stairs which we had to ascend in order to enter our friend’s apartment. Even getting my mom out of my car was quite a process, since her severe arthritis and lack of strength in her lower extremities always makes getting out of a seat a major challenge.
Once we reached the stairs to our friend’s place, I asked my mom which side she felt stronger on (her right), and had her take hold of the stair rail on the right. She lifted her left foot and planted it on the first step, and we made our slow climb. At step number eight, my mom blurted out, “I can’t do it”, in a voice filled with desperation and fear. I told her, “Mom, just rest for a second. You’re almost halfway there!” But there was no beast mode, no dogged determination in my mom. She just stood there, clinging to the stair rail for dear life, and I could see that she had given up. Thankfully, a male neighbor offered to help, and essentially hoisted her up each step until they reached the top.
After we settled into our friend’s place, we had a nice lunch and wonderful conversation, and my mom forgot about the stair-climbing incident. When we were ready to leave, another very nice man helped my mother descend the stairs, a task which was much easier since gravity was on her side, and also since it didn’t require the lower body strength that going up the stairs did.
It was pretty agonizing for me to watch my mom go up those stairs. I know she has slowed down a lot, and I know that physical challenges like stairs are massive for her. For this reason, I unfortunately cannot bring her to my place for a visit, because there are stairs everywhere in my residence. I also find the idea of decreased strength and mobility completely terrifying.
If only we could all enjoy sprightly motion throughout our twilight years! This is even more motivation for me to keep training every day like I do.