AARP AARP States Oregon

Taking a "Walk"

Senior man sitting on a wheelchair with caregiver
Getty Images

Force of habit compels me, unconsciously, routinely, impulsively, to say, “I’m taking a walk.” (Back in the day, the sounds of those words compelled my dog to leap with joy, and scamp away to find her leash.) In reality, however, fully conscience, pragmatic, practical, I should say, “I’m taking a roll.” (my dog would have snored.)

The truth of the matter is that I’m no longer bi-podal: when I take a walk, I sit.

I roll from my Assisted Living Facility, my ALF, for two reasons: to shop in the nearby multi-functional retail store for groceries, personal hygiene items, produce, high protein drinks, et.al. And to visit my favorite coffee shop, where a stranger will open the door for my wheelchair when I tap on the glass door, where the barista, when she hears my tap will begin to make my favorite frou-frou coffee drink, and when finished will bring it to the table where I placed myself on the flower-laden outdoor patio, to sit in the sun to sip my drink and read the book which keeps me company.

To enjoy this bliss, I engaged in an existential struggle to cross two chaotic, car-filled boulevards.

First, I had to push the walk button, allowing me access to the cross walk. (roll, for me.) Not a problem – if I were standing and walking, but, alas, I’m not. The city engineers have designed and built a new pedestrian system for ease of entering the cross-walk. Great for wheelchairs. Thanks. But, the post the walk button is affixed to now rises from an aesthetically pleasing concrete base. Easy to reach if you’re standing. But I - and other wheelchair habitués – am not. I can’t position my wheelchair close enough so that I can reach the button. The button is too far away and too high. Were the engineers sitting in a wheelchair when they designed the easy-to-use-wheelchair-access button?

So, I wait until a pedestrian is going my way and presses the button, or I ask a passer-by to push it for me. Now I’m free to roll my mini four-wheel transport into the crossing lane and into the range of the bemouth other four-wheel transports, and hope none try to beat the red light.

Dick Weinman is an AARP volunteer and our ALF guru.

About AARP Oregon
Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.