Growing older requires us to adjust to a number of changes. Our kids grow up and leave the nest. We may choose to sell the family home and downsize. Retiring from a long-time job alters our purpose and goals. And, medical conditions or mobility obstacles may result in the need for a wheelchair.
But getting accustomed to a wheelchair can be extremely intimidating. A lifetime of walking, running, jumping, and dancing has now been exchanged for a more sedentary lifestyle. It’s easy to understand what a challenge this will be, and what a concern it could be for a person’s sense of freedom.
Tips to Help an Elderly Loved One Who Is Newly Wheelchair‑Bound?
If an older adult you love has begun a new phase in life in a wheelchair, they are going to need your assistance and reassurance to work through the countless feelings that can come with this change. Embarrassment, anger, despair, and fear are common. The following tips from our Highland home health care experts can help.
- Listen. Make yourself available for as much time as possible to simply sit down with the senior and invite them to talk about how they are feeling. It is important to let them know that they are heard and understood, without trying to “fix” anything or appear condescending or judgmental in any way. Acknowledge that their thoughts are valid.
- Remain positive. After encouraging the older adult to share as much as they would like, attempt to carefully shift the focus of the conversation to what they still can do and what they have not lost. Talk through and set some new goals that the older adult would like to achieve, no matter how small they might appear. If adding in a little humor is appropriate, shared laughter could be extremely therapeutic. Keep in mind that a measure of patience is going to be required for the both of you as the senior experiences and manages new frustrations.
- Research adaptive equipment. There are plenty of devices and tech tools available to help maximize independence, safety, and comfort for individuals who use wheelchairs. There are simple home modifications you can make immediately as well, like moving frequently-used objects to lower cupboards and shelves that the older adult can reach with ease and rearranging furniture to make wider pathways.
- Keep your relationship the same. Regardless of this outward change, the older adult remains the same on the inside. It’s important to treat them just the same as always. Your tendency may be to take charge and do as much as possible for the senior to help make life easier for them, but you may end up doing more harm than good. Enabling the senior to maintain self-sufficiency is extremely important to their wellbeing.
Do you have a senior loved one who is struggling with getting accustomed to a wheelchair? Morning Glory Home Care’s Highland home health care experts are here to help! We can provide a complimentary consultation to make suggestions for alterations to the home that make it easier for an older adult in a wheelchair to live independently. We can also provide a wide range of personalized in-home care services[LAL4] to support the senior in whatever way is needed. Give us a call at 618-667-8400 to find out more. Visit our Service Area page for a full list of the communities we serve.