My grandfather loved the outdoors, and missed his excursions when he moved into an assisted living facility. Although he was initially satisfied with his choice to be there, he eventually became unhappy. The staff was caring and attentive, and helped him with short outings whenever possible, but couldn't take him out into the beautiful, wild areas for extended outings. During increasingly rare moments of lucidity, he asked to be taken to our family land and be allowed to enjoy the wild beauty once more.
Moving my grandfather out of the assisted living facility and into our home bordering the National Forest meant caring for him over 45 minutes from the nearest hospital. It was risky, but I am glad we honored his request.
The great outdoors became theoretically accessible, just a few steps from our front door. In reality, immersing my grandfather in the outdoor experience he craved was tremendously challenging. Canes, walkers and standard wheelchairs were unsuitable for rough woodland trails.
We experimented with everything, including the dog cart we used to train huskies in the summer months. After carefully positioning my grandfather onto the seat of the cart, my mother and I functioned as the "dogs." We did our best to provide an enjoyable experience, pulling him through the woods, but quickly discovered there was insufficient rider support and it was awkward to turn safely.
There is only one thing we have found that works well as an all-terrain, human-powered vehicle. The same company that manufactured my favorite all-terrain baby stroller, Baby Jogger, created the Advance Mobility 'Freedom' Jogging Stroller. Designed to help adults with physical disabilities pursue an active lifestyle, this jogging stroller provides a smooth, safe, enjoyable ride for adults up to 200 pounds! We discovered some of the key benefits:
- Lightweight and easy to push over all types of terrain
- Reclining, padded seat for rider comfort
- Curved handle for pushing comfort
- 16 inch tires with puncture resistant tubes provide a smooth ride over all types of terrain
- Folds compactly for easy transport
If you are committed to helping your loved one enjoy outdoor senior living, learn from my mistakes. Forget the dog cart and go straight for the Freedom Stroller! Of course, if you've discovered other solutions, do share by commenting on this blog.