Aging requires us to get accustomed to a wide range of changes. Our children become adults and move out. We may choose to sell the family home and scale down. Retiring from a long-lasting career alters our purpose and goals. And, health problems or mobility challenges may result in the need for a wheelchair.
This kind of adjustment can be extremely daunting. A lifetime of walking, running, jumping, and dancing has now been exchanged for a primarily sedentary lifestyle. It is obvious what a challenge this might be, and what a concern it can be for someone’s sense of self-reliance.
How Can You Assist an Older Adult Who Has Recently Become Wheelchair-Bound?
If an older adult you love has started a new phase in life in a wheelchair, they are going to need your assistance and reassurance to deal with the many emotions that can go along with this change. Fear, embarrassment, anger, and despair are common. The following tips from our experts in home care in Denver and the surrounding areas can help.
- Listen. Make yourself available for as much time as possible to allow the older adult the opportunity to share their feelings. It is crucial that you tell them they are heard and understood, without endeavoring to “fix” anything or appear condescending or judgmental. Acknowledge that their emotions about the change in mobility are valid.
- Remain positive. After the older adult shares as much as they’d like, make an effort to naturally shift the focus of the discussion to what they still are capable of doing and what they have not lost. Talk through and set some new goals that the individual wishes to achieve, regardless of how small they may appear. If including some wit is appropriate, shared laughter could be extremely healing. Recognize that a measure of patience will likely be necessary for both of you as the older adult experiences and deals with new frustrations.
- Investigate adaptive devices. There are so many gadgets and tech tools available to help optimize independence, safety, and comfort for people who use wheelchairs. There are simple home customizations that can be made right away as well, such as moving commonly-used items to lower cupboards and shelves that the individual can easily reach and rearranging furniture to make wider pathways.
- Keep your relationship exactly the same. Despite this outward change, the older adult remains the same on the inside. It is imperative to treat them the same as always. Your tendency might be to take over and do as much as possible for the individual to help make life easier for them, but you may wind up doing more harm than good. Allowing the older adult to maintain as much self-sufficiency as possible is vital to their wellbeing.
Abby Senior Care, a trusted resource for home care assistance in Denver and the nearby areas, is here to help! We can provide a complimentary consultation to make recommendations for adjustments around the home that will make it easier for an older adult in a wheelchair to live independently. We can also provide a wide array of personalized in-home care services to support the individual in whatever way is needed. Call us at 303-699-8840 for more information.