Mobility Matters to the Elderly 

They need to connect too! 

The perfect show to take my mom to
“One More Time,” the perfect show in which to take my mother. 

When I wrote my book, Mobility Matters, I had just overcome my fears and changed my outlook toward my incurable eye disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa.  My biggest fear had been that I would be forced to stay at home because I couldn’t see to get around. But with mobility training, I overcame the understanding of what it meant to be blind.

I knew that mobility would matter to others as well–those wheelchair bound, anyone who suffered from chronic illness, those who lacked transport, others with temporary bone breaks and, of course, the elderly. But since that time, God has given me faces and friendships that go along with members of these other groups.

One of those faces is my mother. At age 86, she suffers from osteoporosis and is very delicate. She’s used a cane for more than ten years. Her fear of falling keeps her at home most of the time, so she lives a quiet life as a near shut-in.

My sister, Carolyn,  used to find places for them both to go. She convinced Mom to attend the  senior citizen’s center at her church every week. My mother enjoyed getting out among other people and often mentioned the speakers. I loved to hear the stories.

The outings dwindled as my mother grew older and my sister became ill with leukemia, a terrible disease that  eventually robbed her of her life.

Carolyn’s passing  symbolically passed on the torch to my brother and me. I don’t think we’ve been as successful in getting Mom to go out. As she aged and suffered two broken wrists in separate falls, her fears of leaving increased. It’s difficult to entrust your safety to a vision-impaired daughter who can’t see where she’s going.

But sometimes God sends along a special person who piques my mom’s interest and whose warmth melts the usual fears.

This week, we were blessed to have that happen.

Melissa, someone who grew up in our neighborhood but who has long since moved away, returned for a visit. She took time out to share memories of her family and that period in her life with Mom. In fact, this was their second visit. Mom recalled Melissa though she grew up at the far end of our street. “I don’t know how I remember her but I do. She seemed like a happy little girl.”

Twenty-five years later, Melissa and her husband now form a musical duo and perform their show to groups of senior citizens, those at RV parks and other recipients around the United States all year long. They have made it their goal to use their musical talents as a way to live out their dream job and travel while enriching the lives of others by using their musical talents. The singing duo live in an RV and book their own gigs.

During their chat, Melissa invited Mom to her show the following day. (“It doesn’t hurt to ask,” is her motto). As I expected, Mom politely turned her down but with a smile. Melissa invited her several times throughout their visit. She left with a sincere, “It would really make my day if you came to hear us sing.”

Guess what? Something changed in my mom’s demeanor. She said she would think about it. Her face softened. Her smile became girlish. The mobility issue suddenly seemed more do-able–and my heart soared!

But we faced another problem. We didn’t have a ride. Judie, who usually had the day off and took me around was out of town, and unfortunately, my brother had an appointment. My spirits fell. I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t think my timid mother would agree to going late. It looked like we were out of luck. Then Melissa messaged me. Maybe her friend, Judy, could pick us up.

That’s all it took. “I guess I’ll have to hurry!” Mom said with a lighter step. She cleaned off the breakfast table and sped through all her morning chores to take a shower. She even washed her hair! As it turned out, Melissa’s friend, Judy, had to work. But my brother took us a little late. Mom seemed okay with that.

We heard the strains of music outside the door to the Senior Center. I held it open for Mom to enter. Melissa danced her way over to us from the front of the room where she was performing, led us to a table in the front and headed back to continue her performance.

What individual and attentive service!

Mom smiled and tapped her feet; she especially liked the balloons they threw out for audience participation. I couldn’t see them until they floated past me but my mother caught one and tossed it out again.

During the last song, Melissa and Larry came out into the audience and sang “Put on a happy face!” Larry came over and shook Mom’s hand with a gigantic white glove. Mom followed his progress around the room for a bit before turning back to me. “I like him, too.”

Larry interacting with the crowd
Larry interacting with the crowd

After the show, Melissa and Larry came over to chat.  Here you see Melissa with my mother. Look at those smiles!

Kitty and Melissa. This picture warms my heart. 

My mother normally leaves as soon as an event finishes. But my brother didn’t come right away. So I hustled to get us some food. When I arrived back with two Styrofoam platefuls, one of the men nodded and said,”You can’t beat a two-dollar lunch.”

“Kitty, I live a big ol’ house on Fairplane.”

“We have some land near there. My son has a business that used to be his dad’s,” Mom explained, warming up.

I pulled my seat closer to the table and quietly scooped potatoes and gravy onto my spoon as the chatter continued around me.

Later Mom picked at her cake and whispered, “Go check the parking lot and see if your brother is waiting out there.”

No red Hyundai. While I looked around, I made a few phone calls to see if anyone could pick us up.

Ordinarily, being stranded would cause Mom great embarrassment.

But when I returned, another lady had made herself at home, though the other seats at our table had emptied. “Now, Kitty, you don’t be a stranger. You and your daughter come back anytime.”

The place was nearly cleared out when Kathy, our rescuer, pulled in the parking lot. My cell rang.

“Mom, he’s on his way. Sit down and talk to Kathy till he comes.”

I heard her say, “I’ll never go anyplace unless I know for sure I have a ride back.”

But when my brother arrived, she seemed to have calmed down and even talked about the people we met. So I wondered if God just wanted Mom to stay a little longer and enjoy more fellowship. She didn’t seem much worse for the wear and she had an adventure to share with her friends later on the phone.

That evening, Mom sat in her chair bathed in the lamplight. She switched off the TV and leaned forward. “They’re a fun couple. I think they really enjoy their lives together. ”

It was the tone of voice she used to use when she shared what happened at the Senior Center with my sister.   She went on to say how much work she had done that morning before she left. It meant it was a good day. I was initially surprised that Melissa could get Mom to go at all, but like Melissa reminds me often, “It never hurts to ask.”

I caught my  breath and let out a sigh. Mobility did matter.

That night, I got on my knees. “Thank you, God,  for seeing to Mom’s heart’s desire and bringing all the details together in Your perfect timing. Thank you for friends who made a difference to her today. I’m so glad I could collect the food and take it to the table without tripping. Such a little thing but I did it. God, most of all, thank you for the lesson of reminding me to invite Mom out for special times all her own.”

Everyone needs to get out sometimes. People need to be refreshed to see their life and themselves in a new way, to know they count. People need to be mobile. 

Once again, I realize that God gave me the perfect title for my book because it connects me so many others and reminds me to think beyond myself to the needs of others. God is teaching me compassion along with confidence. Little by little, I’m growing.

As I put out the light and covered myself up, I sang, “Put on a hap-py face!”

Put on a HAPPY face!
Put on a HAPPY face!

To learn more about Larry and Melissa Beahm or to book them for a gig at your location, check out their website, One More Time. You can also LIKE their band, One More Time, on Facebook and follow their progress as they travel and perform around the country.

You have just read, “Mobility Matters to the Elderly” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright August 26, 2015. Please like and share this post and don’t forget to leave a comment to let me know what you think!

Mobility Matters to the Elderly
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41 thoughts on “Mobility Matters to the Elderly

  • August 27, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Such a touching story! Thank you for sharing. It is so important to continue making memories with our loved ones, no matter how old they become. So many of the elderly I see can become too comfortable with their daily routine at home and not want to venture outside. As you say, mobility is essential for both physical health and mental and emotional well-being.

  • August 27, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks, Nick!

  • August 27, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Hi Nicole,
    You expressed it well: “for both physical health and emotional well-being.”
    Thank you for your comment!

  • August 27, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    What a wonderful story! I am so glad your mom was able to get out to hear the music. Many of our patients are elderly and our physical therapists work very hard to help them develop their best form of mobility for this very reason… whether that be a cane, a walker, a wheelchair or continuing to build up their own strength and endurance after surgery or illness.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  • August 27, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    I love that story, Amy. I see myself in your mother’s shoes, although I’m ten years younger. I never get out and my husband is ill.
    The doctor sent someone around to help us. She’s like a therapist, but is actually a person who sets all the wheels in motion to help people with their needs. I’m assured that soon, I’ll be able to go out once a week. Maybe God works through doctors too.

  • August 27, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    You’re so welcome, Elizabeth.
    Glad you enjoyed it!

  • August 27, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Mobility is important at every age. Especially as we age. Getting out and about is refreshing both physically and mentally. It is nice to know your Mom made it out. Hopefully more ventures to come.

  • August 27, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Hi Francene,
    I did think of you when I wrote this post. You’re one of the faces that God has personalized in helping me understand various challenges others have with mobility. So happy you enjoyed Mom’s story! I believe that God brings us encouragement through many people, definitely including the woman who came to your apartment to set the wheels in motion. Looking forward to hearing about your first outing soon!

  • August 27, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Thank you, Shonda!
    I agree with you. Hopefully, there will be more outings!

  • August 27, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Amy – your Mom and my mother in law (who has injured herself a number of times in falls) are so close in age. She also is a survivor of ocular melanoma. I am going to feature your post in my Falling Friday tomorrow – I loved it!

  • August 28, 2015 at 3:07 am

    Amy, it is hard to humble me! 🙂 But you do it. May you and Kitty be blessed as much as you bless others. ~ L

  • August 28, 2015 at 6:16 am

    Larry, you and Melissa totally made my mom’s and my day! I’m so glad we made it! Thank you both for your wonderful music, your jokes and taking an interest in my mother. Lovely memory … and wishing you as many gigs as you can take on!

  • August 28, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Alana, so glad to hear you enjoyed it!
    I’d be very honored to have you feature my post in your Falling Friday blog on Friday.
    Our parents become so fragile as they age. I can well imagine the challenges for your mother-in-law.

  • August 29, 2015 at 2:48 am

    Getting older is hard. Glad you and your mom saw a show.
    My brother and I went for a walk. It was a short one. I have a community mailbox now and it’s only down the street a little, but I know how lucky I am to be shown where it is, to get my own mail. My elderly neighbour probably can’t get hers. Mobility Matters is, indeed, a wonderful title for your book and it does matter.

  • August 30, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Thank you, Elizabeth! You are absolutely right; it’s so important to help the elderly prepare for their best form of mobility. You put it very well! My hats are off to these physical therapists.Thank you for sharing that information with me.

  • September 7, 2015 at 6:05 am

    Public establishments should have mobility access ramps on entrances and exits. It should be a must considering how important it is. Thanks for this great article you are absolutely right.

  • September 7, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    You’re welcome. And keep making those ramps!

  • September 14, 2015 at 7:15 am

    It is the most important thing to every senior. The independence of moving on your own that gives you the freedom to do things.

  • September 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    You’re right. About half the groups I speak to are seniors. We talk about how to maximize their mobility and ways to retain their independence. Thank you for your comment!

  • March 22, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Wheelchair ramps are a good way to add mobility aids for elderly.

  • March 22, 2016 at 11:07 am

    So true! A couple of my friends have made their parents’ homes wheelchair accessible. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  • March 29, 2016 at 5:40 am

    Mobility is one of the most important things for wheelchair users. They need to have the feeling of being independent.

  • November 15, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Your eye disease really opened you up to acknowledging the mobility concerns of those in wheelchairs, those who are chronically ill, and of course, the elderly, as you shared. It’s good to hear that Melissa’s presence had such a positive effect on your mom and her willingness to go out.

  • November 16, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Hi Christina,
    Yes, it has. It has given me many more insights and that’s a good thing. Melissa is amazing. She is so persuasive! I was reminded of the so many others that are in the same boat as me in various ways last night during the launch of my new book, which shows what life is like with my cane.
    Thank you so much for taking time to comment and sharing your thoughts.

  • December 21, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Yes, no doubt that most of the seniors love mobility.For those in relatively good health, but with the potential problems in the future, a continuing care retirement community is a better option. These communities offer independent senior living and a nursing home environment. This combination allows the residents to transfer within the same community when more medical assistance is needed. Seniors who need regular assistance in their daily lives can enjoy an apartment, where they can come and go as they please. Residents who need more help can move to assisted living, which gives them the partial independence while gaining access to continual medical attention. possible.
    Thank you for the great sharing.

  • December 22, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Hi Tom,
    That sounds like a good plan. My mother would never agree to leave her house but I know many who have. I didn’t know the term “continuing care retirement community,” but should. 🙂
    Thank you so much for taking time to comment!

  • January 10, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing this story! Seniors always should feel needed and included.

  • January 11, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Hi Brian,
    How wonderful you found this post! I love thinking about that day.
    Yes, you are absolutely correct! Thank you for taking time to comment.
    Please come back to my community!

  • May 15, 2017 at 3:29 am

    With in-home care, families that are unable to serve as primary caregivers have the benefit of knowing that their loved ones are receiving professional, compassionate, and personalized care in the convenience of their own homes.

  • June 12, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    A personalised care plan can means more dedicated time considering your health. The advantages of home health care are boundless. Recovery time is quicker, pain levels reduced, and most importantly the flexibility to recover at your own pace in familiar surroundings.

  • June 12, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Dear Care Homes,
    Thank you for your comment. I am amazed at how people keep finding this post.
    I totally agree that a personalized plan is the best way to go, which is what we did for my mother.
    Please stop back again.

  • July 17, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    These types of shows are great. The elderly certainly need to experience life, and interact with the environment as well. Shows, light and specialised exercise, trips and cultural events provide an excellent chance for this.
    My grandfather lives in an elderly home, and he always talks about the programs they have there with glowing eyes.

  • July 17, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    I so agree, Abel Lorincz!
    It is really a gift to be able to entertain in that way. I love how senior centers hire programs like Melissa and Larry to entertain! At a certain point, my mother, my sister and her then toddler granddaughter all attended a senior center program at my sister’s church. It really gave them something to look forward to! One of the activities was light exercise. Talia (toddler) jointed in right along with them!
    Thanks for reading my post and taking time to comment! Please come back and check out new posts.

  • September 4, 2017 at 5:16 am

    Hugely important revelation there about the connection part – I think that we as children of aging folks, who will of course face challenges to their mobility and independence among other things, sometimes have a habit of fixating on the physical impairment when it comes along.

    Sure, it’s important to prevent falls (heard about the two broken wrists, sorry!), but in my short experience in physical therapy I have come to learn that community is so incredibly important for elderly populations. When patients are in the therapy gym having a good time, it almost always translates to better outcomes in participation and mobility. Way to stay focused on the big picture 🙂 Excellent post.

  • October 24, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Senior Benefits Coordination provides a broad range of additional housing-related support services to clients with needs beyond basic home repair.

  • October 24, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Younger family members are liberated from the role of full-time caregivers, and are able to assure that time with their older loved one is meaningful and high-quality. Older residents are glad to return to the role of family matriarch or patriarch and often pleased that their grown children no longer have to “parent the parent.”

  • October 24, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Dear In Home Care,
    It’s good to know there is support out there!
    Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • October 24, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Dear Care Homes,
    I think I have seen something like this in Europe where younger kids and the elderly live together and help each other. I think it’s a great plan. Thanks for reminding me of it and dropping by to leave a comment.

  • November 17, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Dear Inhome care,
    Thank you for taking time to read and comment.

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