Precautions that facilities use to keep people safe propelled me to independence. In the rehab hospital I made the mistake of wheeling myself out to the patio when I was done with therapy for the day. The aide who was sent to find me said I could not sit outside alone. When I pointed to people who were sitting alone she whirled my wheelchair around and took me back to my room. The last time I was dragged inside I was probably three years old. A psychologist brokered a compromise. I could sit outside if I came back upstairs and wrote down where I was going on a clipboard. The psychologist said the staff were afraid I would wander off if they let me go outside. Did the aides tell anyone I had been reliably transporting myself to and from therapy for days?
Safety precautions are good. The problem is staff who rigidly apply precautions to everyone.
Did anyone read my chart to learn I had a stroke in the brainstem instead of the brain? I was treated like my roommate who was so confused she tried to use the TV remote as a telephone. The staff attached a sensor to me at night to keep me from getting out of bed. Every time I rolled onto my side I triggered a very loud alarm and had to wait for an aide to come shut it off. When I finally complained a nurse said they would stop using the sensor if I signed a release form saying they were not liable if I fell out of bed. How long they would have used it if I had not objected?
When I toured an assisted living facility I was upset again by procedures designed to keep people safe. While the director gave me a tour she said 3 or 4 times that "elderly people prefer to have a nurse give them their medication." If the assisted living staff decided it would be safer if the nurse dispensed my pills, my day would revolve around visits to the nurse because I take pills four times a day. I saw the nurse handing out pills in a snack area where people who did not want to go to breakfast where waiting. I am not really living in an apartment if the nurse can open my door with a master key to give me my pills when I decide to sleep in.
Being treated like a senile 95 year old turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I am not sad that I use a cane and leg brace and print checks with my non-dominant sound hand. I am grateful that compensatory strategies make me independent enough to live in my own home.