Growing older demands that we get used to numerous changes. Our children mature and leave the nest. We may opt to sell the family home and downsize. Retiring from a long-term occupation changes our purpose and goals. And, medical conditions or mobility issues for seniors may result in the need for a wheelchair.
This kind of adjustment can be hugely intimidating. A lifetime of walking, running, jumping, and dancing has now been exchanged for a sedentary lifestyle. It is easy to see what a challenge this is, and how it can affect a person’s sense of independence.
Tips for Supporting an Older Adult Who Is Recently Wheelchair‑Bound
If an older adult you love has started a new chapter in life in a wheelchair, they’re going to need your help and encouragement to work through the various emotions that may come with this change. Fear, embarrassment, anger, and despair are common. These tips from our experts in home care in Palatine, IL and nearby areas can help.
- Listen. Be available as much as you can to allow the senior to share how they’re feeling. It’s imperative that you make sure they know that they are heard and understood, without attempting to “fix” anything or come across as condescending or judgmental. Acknowledge that their feelings are valid.
- Stay positive. After letting the senior share as much as they would like, try to carefully shift the focus of the discussion to what they still can do and what they haven’t lost. Talk through and specify some new goals that the older adult wishes to accomplish, regardless of how small they might seem. If adding in a bit of wit is appropriate, shared laughter could be extremely healing. Keep in mind that a measure of patience is going to be required for both of you as the older adult experiences and handles new frustrations.
- Look into adaptive devices. There are countless gadgets and tech tools available to help maximize independence, safety, and comfort for people who use wheelchairs. There are simple home modifications you can make immediately as well, like moving commonly-used items to lower cabinets and shelves that the senior can reach with ease and rearranging furniture to make wider pathways.
- Keep your relationship the same. Regardless of this external change, the older adult remains the same on the inside. It is important to treat them just the same as always. Your inclination may be to take control and do as much as possible for the senior to help make life easier for them, but you may find yourself doing more harm than good. Enabling the older adult to maintain independence is essential for their wellbeing.
Inspired Home Care’s caregivers are here to assist! We can provide a no-cost consultation to make suggestions for modifications around the home which will make it easier for an older adult in a wheelchair to live independently. We can also provide an array of customized in-home care services to support the senior in whatever way is needed. Give us a call at 847-787-7572 to learn more about our award-winning in-home care in Palatine, IL and nearby areas.