How To Best Assist Someone Using A Wheelchair
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Are you the caregiver of a wheelchair user? If so, you know the job comes with its challenges. Of course, it also comes with its rewards. Assisting a loved one with disabilities ensures that he/she is able to enjoy more aspects of his/her life. Of course, there are care recipients who would much rather do things on their own. How do you make someone using a wheelchair feel emotionally secure while also fulfilling your duties to make sure he/she is safe?
Allow the Wheelchair User to Be Independent When Appropriate
Never forget that a person’s loss of independence is often a list-topper for reasons for depression. Because your assistance may be required from time to time, it doesn’t mean that your care recipient requires it all of the time. Be sure to check in with your loved one to see if your help is necessary. During times when assistance isn’t necessary, allow your care recipient to handle the chair independently.
As well, Avacare Medical reminds us that there may be times when a wheelchair user can help you. “If a wheelchair user offers assistance with bags, etc., take their help – don’t assume they don’t have the ability and let them judge that for themselves,” advises their website, “Overall, never ‘mother’ a wheelchair user – they are often very independent and don’t need or want you to fuss over them.”
Make Sure Your Care Recipient Is Comfortable
Remember that your job as the caregiver of a wheelchair user is to ensure both physical and emotional comfort. When it comes to the physical requirements, you want to make sure the wheelchair itself is in good working order. A faulty unit, of course, can lead to injury. Secondly, make sure the seat itself is not in disrepair. A quality cushion can make the entire experience significantly better. You also want to ensure your care recipient is seated properly.
“Lower your friend or family member into the wheelchair slowly and steadily, making sure they are fully seated in the chair, not perched on the edge,” advises the U.K.’s Autochair, “If they are able to stand and lower themselves into the chair, stand behind it and hold on to the handles to make sure it doesn’t move. Once they are seated, swing the footrests back into place, minding their legs, and fold the footplates back down.”
Don’t Make Assumptions
You know what they say about people who assume, right? Remember that during conversations with the wheelchair user in your life. Don’t jump to conclusions. Depending on the relationship you have with your care recipient, it’s best to politely inquire about what his/her needs are. Note that your question involves getting information about how you can best be of assistance. It’s not about your curiosity about his/her condition.
“Don’t make assumptions about why a person is using a wheelchair,” instructs Avacare Medical, “Many, if not most, wheelchair users are not paralyzed and can get up if they need to. Wheelchairs may be used to avoid overexertion, to relieve back pain or by individuals who cannot walk for extended periods of time – that doesn’t make them totally disabled.”
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