When a family member or a loved one has to start using a wheelchair, it’s important to let them know that you are there to support them. Unlike those who have grown up using a wheelchair or have had time to grow accustomed to the change in lifestyle, your loved one will be experiencing many expected and unexpected changes. Here are a few ways you can help them adjust to their new lifestyle.
How Long Will They Require A Wheelchair?
Wheelchair use is an excellent form of improving mobility and independence for people with a variety of conditions and requirements. Some wheelchair users might only need the assistance of their chair for a few months if their condition is expected to change, whereas other people might need their chair for the foreseeable future to help with everyday tasks. Knowing how long your loved one will require the use of their wheelchair can help you decide the extent of your adjustments and how permanent or temporary they should be.
The start of any big life adjustment comes with its fair share of challenges. If your loved one is stressed or irritable due to the new circumstances, avoid reacting with a short temper. It is understandable that someone experiencing such a change would need time not only to adjust physically but emotionally too. Bear this in mind so as to not misunderstand or misinterpret your loved one’s feelings.
Make Physical Adjustments
If your loved one will require the use of a wheelchair for a prolonged period of time, consider the adjustments you can make that will tangibly improve their surroundings. Common tasks become more challenging when using a wheelchair since the world is built for people without mobility restrictions.
- Investing in a wheelchair-accessible kitchen and bathroom can make such a difference since it makes daily tasks easier and safer.
- A wheelchair-accessible vehicle makes travel more enjoyable. Take a look at alliedmobility.com for more information.
- If you don’t share a home with a wheelchair user, you can still make your home more accessible by arranging the space to allow more room for your loved one to move freely.
Understand How They Feel
Don’t assume you know how your loved one is feeling about this change in their life. Ask them what you can help them with but don’t preempt their needs, as this robs them of their sense of independence. If you don’t feel able to talk directly with them about it, find out what other wheelchair users experience and discover how you can be supportive and not overbearing.
Go At Their Pace
Every individual will have their own reaction to the changes that come with newly using a wheelchair. Don’t rush your loved one into sharing thoughts or making decisions. Instead, give them time and space to adjust to their new lifestyle without the added pressure of also meeting your expectations. Everyone is different and deserves to respond to life in their own way.