How did I go from a longtime career in commercial real estate and financial services to inventing products for the mobility impaired? What was happening? Why me? These are questions I have asked myself over and over. Did I ever think I would be designing bathroom safety products for the aging and mobility impaired? Of course not!
The timing could not have been worse, or so I thought. I didn’t really have time to venture into “the unknown” of inventing and product development. Like everyone else, I had a busy home-life – my husband works long hours and travels internationally on business, my daughter was in high school, and my son was in middle school … and I had my own “day job”. Second, the US economy plummeted, so the financial resources for anything outside the “necessary” seemed unattainable. At times, I felt that I was taking such a huge risk at the expense of my family and other obligations. On the other hand, for the second time in my life (ok, the first was for my husband – that will be saved for another post), I knew I was supposed to take this leap of faith.
My Mom has “reduced mobility”, meaning the strength in her arms and legs have lessened, making it difficult to walk, sit and lift. She uses a rollator (rolling walker) and bathroom safety products to assist her with her daily living activities and fall prevention. Of course, the rollator and other walking aids can be used inside or outside the home, but bathroom safety products, such as toilet safety frames, raised toilet seats, and commodes, are designed strictly for in-home use. While there are a lot of great products out there, there was not one bathroom safety product that was truly portable and discreet. I realized it was up to me to resolve that problem – to find a product that would allow her to safely use a toilet in any restroom so that she could remain socially active and retain her dignity.
And lastly, “Why Me?”
Because I get it – I understand my Mom’s embarrassment, fears and frustrations. I would do anything eliminate one or all of these for her. If she was experiencing these emotions, others in her situation – and their families – were also. And that’s when my life took on a whole new focus. I was committed to understanding the market and the illnesses causing reduced mobility. I was meeting with physicians, physical and occupational therapists, caregivers, retailers, consumers, and anyone else who could be of help.
As I say over and over, there is nothing sexy about my inventions, but the energy and commitment I have confirm this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing.