Aging demands that we adjust to numerous changes. Our kids become adults and leave the nest. We may choose to sell the family home and scale down. Retiring from a long-term career changes our purpose and goals. And, health problems or elderly mobility issues may result in the need to use a wheelchair.
This kind of adjustment can be hugely daunting. A lifetime of walking, running, jumping, and dancing has now been exchanged for a more sedentary lifestyle. It is easy to understand what a challenge this can be, and what a concern it may be for someone’s sense of freedom.
How Can You Assist an Older Adult Who Is Newly Wheelchair‑Bound?
If an older adult you love has started a new chapter in life in a wheelchair, they will need your assistance and reassurance to deal with the numerous feelings that may go along with this change. Fear, embarrassment, anger, and despair are common. The following tips from our caregiver experts in Kansas City and the surrounding areas can help.
- Listen. Make yourself available for as much time as possible to allow the senior the opportunity to share how they are feeling. It is crucial that you make sure they know they are heard and understood, without seeking to “fix” anything or come across as judgmental or condescending at all. Acknowledge that their thoughts about the changes in mobility are valid.
- Stay positive. After letting the older adult share as much as they would like, try to delicately 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 senior would like to accomplish, regardless of 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 will be necessary for both of you as the older adult experiences and deals with new frustrations.
- Research adaptive tools. There are countless devices and tech tools available to help maximize comfort, independence, and safety for individuals who use wheelchairs. There are simple home modifications you can make immediately as well, such as moving commonly-used objects to lower cabinets and shelves that the senior can easily reach and rearranging furniture to produce wider walkways.
- Keep your relationship exactly the same. Regardless of this outward change, the senior is still the same inside. It is imperative to treat them just the same as always. Your tendency might be to take control and do as much as possible for the senior to help make life easier for them, but you may wind up doing more harm than good. Enabling the older adult to maintain independence is vital for their wellbeing.
Hearts at Home In-Home Care, a trusted provider of experienced caregivers in Kansas City and other nearby areas, is here to assist! We can provide a complimentary consultation to make suggestions for alterations around the house that will make it easier for a senior in a wheelchair to live independently. We can also provide an array of customized in-home care services to assist the older adult in whatever way is needed. Call us today at 913-440-4209 for more info.