Not too very many years ago, there were few assistive devices for folks who needed some help just going through a routine day.  Many had to depend on another person to cook their food, help them dress, do laundry, help with grooming, bathing, and/or many things that we take for granted.  I knew someone who needed help with these things and more – my mom.  She developed rheumatoid arthritis in her twenties, and my dad was her “aide.”  He never minded taking care of her.  Despite numerous surgeries to help remain mobile, she fought hard to keep walking, which she did, with the help of a walker.  They are both gone now, but the advancements in devices that persons can use to help with their independence are wonderful.  Even such a small thing as a remote control, which we now take for granted, is so helpful to a person who can’t get up out of a chair to switch channels on the television. 

Maybe that is what makes me more aware of those who need a little help.  Recently, some friends and I went shopping, and one of my friends with arthritis is unable to walk very far at a time.  She can shop, then sit and rest, and she enjoys the outings with everyone.  She is not disabled, as my mother was, but when she shops in a “superstore,” she is always in need of one of the motorized carts.  We began to realize how much demand there is for those carts, and sadly, there are just not enough to go around.  Yesterday, the only two carts there were unavailable because they were being charged.  One of the employees said that they just can not get all of them charged up to keep up with the demand.  One problem, she mentioned, is the fact that while a person is using the cart, say waiting on medications at the pharmacy, they keep the cart running for maybe 20 minutes or more, which causes it to use up the power from the battery.    Hopefully, this message will serve as a hint to utilize the cart only as long as necessary, and try to return it for the next person who is waiting, by not letting it idle too long. 

In the state of Texas, as other states, there are placards for those who need special parking due to an illness or handicap.  According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, it is illegal for others to use these spaces.  Blue placards designate a permanent disability; red placards designate a temporary disability.  Misuse of these placards can cost fines up to $1,250, and/or up to 50 hours of community service.  I can empathize with persons who have to drive all around malls, looking for handicapped parking, as I’ve done it several times, only to see someone get out of their car who can walk just fine.  That extra parking space is there to allow more room to help someone in and out of the car to be seated in a wheelchair.   

Thankfully, we have more and more products that make life a little easier.  There are handicap vans, all types of mobility aids, automobile accessories, bathroom, kitchen accessories, and grooming aids.  If a person’s physician prescribes things such as a lift chair, scooter, wheelchair, Medicare or Medicaid may help pay for it. 

Now, individuals need to be more conscientious about helping others.  Don’t ignore someone who may need help with some tiny little task that you could do with your eyes closed.  Most persons won’t ask for help, as they want to maintain their independence, but your offer will be appreciated.  Pay attention to those you think you can do a favor for.  Remember, none of us are getting any younger, and hopefully, that kindness will be repaid some day.