Growing older requires us to get used to more than a few changes. Our kids mature and move out. We may opt to sell the family home and downsize. Retiring from a long-term career shifts our purpose and goals. And, medical conditions or mobility challenges may result in the necessity for a wheelchair.
This kind of adjustment can be quite intimidating. A lifetime of hiking, walking, jogging, and dancing has now been exchanged for the a primarily sedentary lifestyle. It’s easy to understand what a challenge this might be, and what a concern it may be for a person’s sense of autonomy.
Caring for an Older Parent Who Is Newly Wheelchair‑Bound
If an older parent has started a new chapter in life in a wheelchair, they may need your assistance and reassurance to sort out the many feelings that may go along with this change. Embarrassment, anger, despair, and fear are common. These tips from our in-home care experts in the greater Topeka area can help.
- Listen. Be available for as much time as you can to simply sit with your parent and give them the opportunity to share with you how they’re feeling. It is imperative that you let them know they are heard and understood, without seeking to “fix” anything or appear judgmental or condescending. Acknowledge that their emotions are valid.
- Remain positive. After your parent shares as much as they’d 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 your parent wants to accomplish, regardless of how small they may seem to be. If including a little humor is appropriate, shared laughter could be extremely healing. Keep in mind that a measure of patience will be required for both of you as your parent experiences and manages new frustrations.
- Research adaptive tools. There are countless gadgets and tech tools available to help maximize comfort, independence, and safety for people who use wheelchairs. There are simple home modifications you can make right away as well, such as moving commonly-used items to lower cupboards and shelves that are easily in reach and rearranging furniture to help make larger pathways.
- Keep your relationship exactly the same. Regardless of this outward change, your parent remains the same on the inside. It’s imperative to treat them just the same as always. Your tendency might be to take over and do as much as possible in order to make life easier for them; however, you may find yourself doing more harm than good. Encouraging your parent to maintain independence is vital for their wellbeing.
Mobility challenges may come up as parents age, and the experts at Grace Home Care are here to help! We can provide a complimentary consultation to make recommendations for alterations around the house that will make it easier for someone in a wheelchair to live independently. We can also provide a wide array of customized in-home care services to assist in caring for older parents in the greater Topeka area. Give us a call at 785-286-2273 for more information about our top-rated care services.