How do you feel about using a rollator at the age of 25?
The other day* someone asked me this question after hearing about my accident and ongoing recovery.
Using a rollator as a 20-something year old woman has never been an issue for me. In fact, I welcomed my rollator with open arms because it represents so many things I value: support, strength, independence, and mobility. It’s the first thing I grab hold of in the morning when my leg feels painful after a night’s sleep. It’s the reason I can stroll around a grocery store or museum instead of only using my wheelchair. It’s the stability I need to physically walk out of the house to get a coffee with a friend. My rollator is my sidekick and I’m grateful for it.
I don’t struggle with the idea of using a rollator, but I do struggle with other people’s negative responses to seeing me with a mobility aid typically associated with the elderly population. If I walk past a crowd, people stare. An indiscreet, head-turning, eye-following stare that makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable and self-conscious. I’ve had strangers in Amsterdam point at me and my rollator and laugh. As I boarded a metro carriage, a man getting out looked at my rollator and immediately shouted “What on EARTH happened to YOU?!” Another day, a guy walked past me and exclaimed “Ha ha! Don’t you look good for your age!” (As if, with my rollator, I must be 80 years old).
These people forget that behind every mobility aid, there’s a person and a story. That maybe, just maybe, I’ve been through an incredible amount of medical challenges and pain to end up using a rollator at an age when most people don’t. And that’s why I can’t always laugh at a rollator “joke” or brush off an insensitive remark without feeling the sting of it first. Words hurt and there are days when strangers really knock down my confidence.
At 25, I’ll continue using my rollator loud and proud — but that doesn’t mean strangers are always equally supportive and respectful. Perceptions need to change and I hope I can contribute something to that, one post at a time.
If you want to read more about (my experience) using mobility aids, check out: