Aging demands that we adjust to a wide range of changes. Our children grow up and move out. We may decide to sell the family home and downsize. Retiring from a long-lasting career shifts our purpose and goals. And, health problems or senior mobility issues may lead to the need for a wheelchair.
This kind of adjustment can be extremely overwhelming. A lifetime of walking, running, jumping, and dancing has now been traded in for a more sedentary way of life. It is easy to understand what a challenge this is, and what an issue it can be for a person’s sense of autonomy.
How Do You Assist an Older Adult Who Is Newly Wheelchair‑Bound?
If an older adult you love has started a new phase in life in a wheelchair, they will likely need your support and reassurance to work through the many feelings that may accompany this change. Fear, embarrassment, anger, and despair are normal. These tips from our experts in home care in Hunt Valley, MD and the surrounding areas can help.
- Listen. Make yourself available for as much time as you possibly can to just sit with the older adult and invite them to share with you how they’re feeling. It is crucial that you let them know they are heard and understood, without attempting to “fix” anything or appear condescending or judgmental in any way. Acknowledge that their emotions are valid.
- Remain positive. After encouraging the older adult to share as much as they would like, try to delicately shift the focus of the conversation to what they still can do and what they have not lost. Talk through and set some new objectives that they would like to accomplish, no matter how small those may appear. If adding in a bit of humor is appropriate, shared laughter can be quite therapeutic. Keep in mind that a measure of patience will likely be needed for both of you as the older adult experiences and handles new frustrations.
- Look into adaptive devices. There are so many devices and tech tools available to help maximize comfort, independence, and safety for people who use wheelchairs. There are simple home customizations you can make immediately as well, such as moving commonly-used items to lower cupboards and shelves that the person can reach with ease and reconfiguring furniture to make wider pathways.
- Keep your relationship the same. Despite this outward change, the older adult remains the same on the inside. It is important to treat them just the same as always. Your inclination might be to take charge and do as much as possible for them to make life easier; however, you may find yourself doing more harm than good. Encouraging the older adult to maintain self-sufficiency is extremely important to their wellbeing.
Absolute Companion Care, a leader in home care in Hunt Valley, MD and the surrounding communities, is here to assist with senior mobility issues of all kinds. We can provide a no-cost consultation to make suggestions for alterations around the house that will make it easier for the older adult in a wheelchair to live independently. We can also provide an array of personalized in‑home care services to support the senior in whatever way is needed. Contact us at 410‑357‑9640 to find out more.