Getting older demands that we get used to a number of changes. Our kids become adults and move out. We may choose to sell the family home and scale back. Retiring from a long-lasting career alters our purpose and goals. And, health conditions or mobility challenges may lead to needing a wheelchair.
Helping seniors adapt to a wheelchair can be a challenge. A lifetime of walking, running, jumping, and dancing has now been traded in for the a more sedentary lifestyle. It’s easy to see what a challenge this will be, and what an issue it could be for someone’s sense of autonomy.
Assisting a Senior Loved One Who Is Recently Wheelchair-Bound
If an older adult you love has started a new chapter in life in a wheelchair, they will likely need your support and reassurance to sort out the numerous feelings that may accompany this change. Embarrassment, anger, despair, and fear are normal. These tips from our senior care experts in Concord and the surrounding areas can help.
- Listen. Be available as much as possible to allow the older adults to share how they’re feeling. It is imperative that you make sure they know they are heard and understood, without attempting to “fix” anything or appear condescending or judgmental in any way. Acknowledge that their feelings are valid.
- Remain positive. After letting the senior share as much as they’d like, make an effort to gently shift the focus of the discussion to what they still can do and what they have not lost. Talk through and set some new goals that the senior wants to achieve, regardless of how small they might seem. If adding in a little wit is appropriate, shared laughter can be very therapeutic. Recognize that a measure of patience will be required for both of you as the older adult experiences and handles new frustrations.
- Research adaptive devices. There are plenty of gadgets and tech tools available to help increase independence, safety, and comfort for people who use wheelchairs. There are simple home modifications you can make immediately as well, including moving frequently-used objects to lower cabinets and shelves that the older adult can reach with ease and rearranging furniture to create wider pathways.
- Keep your relationship the same. Despite this outward change, the older loved one remains the same inside. It is important to treat them just the same as always. Your inclination may be to take charge and do as much as possible for the senior to make life easier for them, but you may find yourself doing more harm than good. Allowing the older adult to maintain independence is vital for their wellbeing.
Live Free Home Health Care has been helping older adults age at home in Concord, NH and neighboring communities since 2006. We offer a complimentary consultation to make suggestions for alterations around the home that may make it easier for a senior in a wheelchair to live independently. We can also provide a variety of personalized in-home care services to support older adults in whatever way is needed. Call us at 603-217-0149 to find out more.