Aging demands that we get accustomed to more than a few changes. Our children grow up and leave the nest. We may decide to sell the family home and scale back. Retiring from a long-lasting job changes our purpose and goals. And, medical conditions or mobility challenges may lead to the need for a wheelchair.
This specific adjustment can be extremely overwhelming. A lifetime of walking, running, jumping, and dancing has now been exchanged for the a more sedentary lifestyle. It’s easy to understand what a challenge this can be, and how it could impact a person’s sense of independence.
Tips to Help an Older Adult Who Needs a Wheelchair
If a senior you love has begun a new phase in life in a wheelchair, they are going to need your help and reassurance to work through the countless feelings that can go along with this change. Fear, embarrassment, anger, and despair are common. The following tips from our Creve Coeur memory care and home care experts can help.
- Listen. Make yourself available for as much time as possible to allow the older adult the opportunity to talk about how they’re feeling. It is vital that you let them know they are heard and understood, without seeking to “fix” anything or come across as condescending or judgmental. Acknowledge that their feelings are valid.
- Remain positive. After allowing the senior to 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 have not lost. Talk through and set some new goals that the senior would like to accomplish, no matter how small they might appear. If including a touch of humor is appropriate, shared laughter can be extremely therapeutic. Understand that a measure of patience is going to be required for you both as the older adult experiences and manages new frustrations.
- Research adaptive tools. There are countless gadgets and tech tools available to help increase comfort, independence, and safety for people who use wheelchairs. There are simple home customizations you can make right away as well, like moving regularly-used objects to lower cabinets and shelves that the senior can easily reach and rearranging furniture to create wider walkways.
- Keep your relationship the same. In spite of this external change, the senior is still the same inside. It’s imperative to treat them just the same as always. Your inclination might be to take charge and do as much as possible 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 important to their wellbeing.
Compassionate Nursing Services’ dedicated caregivers are here to help! We can provide a complimentary consultation to make suggestions 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 range of customized in-home care services to assist in whatever way is needed. Call us today at 314-432-4312 for more information about our award-winning Creve Coeur memory care and home care services. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.