Strangers’ questions about your mobility: well-meaning or nosy?

Woman on a wheelchair

Many people who use walkers also use wheelchairs. To people in the industry or with physical challenges, that’s not news. But for the average person on the street, it may be baffling to see their neighbour using a walker or rollator one day, and a wheelchair the next.

Switching between devices can often depend on a user’s day-to-day challenges and activities. There might be changes in strength, or different social situations that require different kinds of mobility aids.

“It can be mortifying to have a walker blocking me from the person I’m trying to hug,” says Frankie Perazzola, a California native who writes regularly about her life and the physical challenges she faces. She also uses a walker and a wheelchair, depending on her health and her environment.

Perazzola has Fiedreichs Ataxia (FA). It’s a genetic disease that often shows in childhood and causes difficulty walking and a loss of feeling in the arms and the legs. FA can also impair normal speech and trigger heart disease. It typically shortens life expectancy, but cases that are less severe often result in life spans into their 60s or even older.

Perazzola says she used to be angry when people asked her about her need to switch between assistive devices, but she isn’t any more. At Triumph, we found her perspective and willingness to educate others about her abilities to be inspiring.

If you’d like to read more about how she deals with people’s questions, go to: