My family has been lucky to live next to my mother for all of these years. Mom has been babysitter, shopping companion and chief spoiler of my children. We’ve benefited so much from the love and devotion she heaped on all of us.

A few months ago, Mom had a bad fall (she really shouldn’t have been standing on a stool at her age) and after a long hospital stay, she’s finally home. She hasn’t regained her mobility though, and suddenly we’ve been thrust into the world of wheelchairs, bathtub rails and home health aides. The entire family has rallied around her, and we’re helping as much as we can. After all, we owe her so much!

But even with all the good intentions, we’re feeling a little bit lost. Will Mom ever walk again? What can we do to help make that happen? Are family trips a thing of the past? Will we have to leave Mom home next time we go away? How do we encourage her to exercise (CAN she even exercise?) and eat right?

We have a lot of questions because this is all so new to us. My husband and I are so used to asking Mom for help, we don’t know how to adjust to a new reality in which she needs our help. But since we have no choice in the matter, we’re doing our best to become as knowledgeable as possible about all these issues. We’re reading whatever we can get our hands on, and we’re testing things out to see what works in real life.

Despite my initial skepticism, I’ve been convinced by friends, family and the Best of Care magazine that a family trip is not out of the realm of possibility. I’m looking into options that are partly wheelchair accessible and also allow for more adventure. We’ve made a chart to diagram who will be spending time with Mom and what they will be doing so everyone can enjoy themselves at all times. I’m incorporating some activities (like museum visits) which we can all do together. This trip is not until summer time, so I can’t report on its success yet, but I am optimistic!

I know this is just the beginning of a challenging new period in our lives but I am determined to make the best of it and maximize the time we have left with Mom. As long as she’s able to enjoy our company, we’ll work in enhancing our relationships with her, and we’ll make that our priority. Physical disability is just that – physical – and we won’t let it change the essence of our love for each other.