The following is an excerpt from “Stair Lifts: Move Up, Not Out” (published in 2014), a book I wrote about the benefits of stair lifts, as well as the various models, features and specifications of those mobility aids. The book was the vision of Andy Darnley, owner of Nationwide Lifts; he wanted an impartial, informative piece to offer people who were facing mobility difficulties and were having trouble with both the psychological and practical decisions related to them.
From pages 14-17:
“Here in America, we admire the bold entrepreneur who establishes a business nobody thinks will catch on. We honor the courage and conviction that our country’s founding fathers had to strike out on their own in a strange new world. We equate the word “independence” with words like “strength” and “power,” and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The only problem is how those perceptions of independence, and all that it stands for, skew our view of dependence and all that it means.
For many of us, a lifetime of independence being equated with strength and virility and youth, we simply can’t handle it when that independence slips away, even just a little. We’re so used to the rush of climbing mountains in our lives that we simply refuse to face the very idea that we might need to sit once awhile, to be helped, pushed, lifted. The mere thought of depending on someone or something to help us move forward in life, either physically or figuratively, is unacceptable.
And so we don’t. We don’t accept it. Instead we mask it behind a deep sense of denial. When it comes to staircases in particular, people often can’t see their own need for assistance, even though it’s staring them right in the face.
Elisabeth’s husband, Jack, is a proud World War II veteran. The words “tough” and “determined” have been used to describe him his entire life. But a few years ago he was diagnosed with emphysema, and the disease has slowly robbed him of his strength. Now on continuous oxygen, Jack still gets around fine, but Elisabeth began to notice that the stairs were becoming quite difficult for him. She would watch as he labored over climbing the single staircase in their home, struggling to catch his breath and sometimes even stopping between stairs. Yet when she told him she thought he needed a stair lift, he flatly denied it.
Jack didn’t want to admit that he needed assistance, so he simply wouldn’t admit it. But denying that you need help doesn’t make the help any less necessary. You still need it, you’re just choosing to live with discomfort, pain, anxiety and fear instead of the assistance that could so easily be yours.
Accepting your own limitations is one of the most difficult things to do. So difficult, in fact, that it shows true strength, courage and even power. Denial, on the other hand, does not make you look strong. It does not fool anyone, not even yourself. Denial turns the focus even more acutely on your disability, your limitations, your struggles and your pain. It becomes the elephant in the room that everybody can’t help but notice, as they wait for you to show them how strong you still are by accepting the assistance you need.
You see? Remaining independent is not the only way to show how powerful you are.”