The New Chair

Dennis has been getting more receptive to equipment that makes movement easier for him. He always used to say no to those things, thinking that he should continue to do everything the hard way, under his own steam, because it was “exercise”. But now his slowness and instability make it hard for me to take him places, even close places like Mom’s house, or to my brother’s which is easy walking distance (for anyone but Dennis).

So the first concession was to start using a walker. We had a low end model but he found it hard to go over uneven sidewalks because the walker had only two wheels and the other contact with the ground was just aluminum legs which often got hung up. I guess that’s why people buy tennis balls and stick them on the legs.

Then he discovered Mom’s fancy convertible wheelchair, which can be used as a walker and also has a seat. It is extra security when he gets tired and needs to rest. He hardly ever goes far enough to need to rest, but that is beside the point. The seat is there and ready.

Yesterday, he broke down and said he needed a lift chair. We had been noticing the increased struggle getting out of recliners. He loves to spend most of his time in that type of chair but it would take him a half dozen attempts to raise out of one. He has very little strength in his thighs. At the same time he had been having frequent urges to get to the bathroom which was not good when he was stuck in his chair. He had tried Mom’s lift chair last week and found it quite impressive. He wanted one.

There two furniture stores in Hayward – the expensive one and the less expensive but still horrifying one. In the lesser store I found two chairs, both of which were just a bit under $2000. They also looked huge and I am not a fan of huge, heavy furniture anymore. I didn’t even bother with the expensive store. Instead I went to Facebook marketplace and inquired about three that were within reasonable driving distance. This morning I borrowed my brother’s truck, picked up a strong helper and drove an hour away to Ashland and fetched home a chair. The upholstery is in great shape, and it only cost a quarter of what a new one would cost. I could be happier about the electronics which are a bit confusing, but it does a nice powered recline and it does eject him satisfactorily. There was no place to plug it in for a test at the storage facility where we picked it up.

I don’t know, it seems really big to me…

I think he’s happy tonight. He likes it (thankfully). It’s a comfortable chair, although I’ve only kind of sat in it once. It’s quite a piece of furniture, with a “presence” all its own. I’m afraid it might even have a personality. It might need a name. At the very least it calls for a living room re-arrange, since it looks really weird in its heightened position, waiting for its occupant. I’m hoping to dream something up while I sleep tonight. I’ll find a good place for it. Welcome Mr. Chair.


A Problem Walk


After several weeks of stability and no new problems developing, I was surprised by what happened today.

Dennis decided he should go for a walk. It’s been cold and rainy, making it easy to stay inside without really planning to avoid exercise. He realized his walks had been infrequent. He also has had trouble sleeping and staying asleep and thought the exercise might improve that problem.

I noticed right from the beginning that he was walking slowly. He had to be reminded every few steps to pick up his feet and walk instead of shuffle. We got to our turnaround point and he began to lean to his right and couldn’t straighten up. The steps got shorter and he said he had to stop for a minute.

I thought his posture might be making it more difficult to walk because at this point, he was leaning back and to the side, with his belly thrust forward and his knees always bent. It was very strange and he couldn’t correct it, but he insisted on “walking it out”. A few steps later he was locking up and hardly able to move so I ran back to the house for the walker with the sit down option. He tried to walk with it but soon gave up and sat down. He pushed himself backward, seated in the walker, all the way to the house. He even had trouble with that. It was very odd.

He was also puzzled, but decided that he had gone too far and had simply gotten tired. He was glad to be back in the house, resting in a chair that he could easily get up from.

This whole episode was very Parkinsonian in nature. I have thought that perhaps he was getting better, reversing some of his symptoms affecting mood and cognition. That may still be the case but this is a setback toward a movement disorder. It’s unsettling to me. I have been counting on him being able to move himself. If he loses that ability I don’t know if I can care for him without more help. Not good.