If you’re the caregiver of a loved one in a wheelchair, you’re undoubtedly a caring and considerate person. However, that doesn’t make you perfect. You’re allowed to experience a little frustration every now and again. After all, you’re human. As well, caring for an individual in a wheelchair isn’t the easiest job in the world. In addition to needing a little upper body strength, you need to exhibit a lot of patience, empathy and understanding.
Here are three best practices for caring for a loved one in a wheelchair:
1. Hold off on commenting on the wheelchair.
Appropriate caregiving for a wheelchair user starts with respecting the individual’s mobility issue. It’s important to remember that your care recipient didn’t choose his/her condition. Be sensitive and considerate when discussing the wheelchair user’s medical situation. As well, be respectful of the chair itself. According to Avacare Medical, there’s no need to discuss, question or even compliment the wheelchair.
“Talk to the person about yourself, themselves, or anything else – but not about their wheelchair (unless you’re looking into buying one yourself),” suggests their website, “It’s inappropriate and often uncomfortable to highlight their use of a wheelchair or make it the focus of your discussion.”
2. Secure the wheelchair before use.
The old adage “safety first” must always be adhered to. No matter how your care recipient feels about the care he/she is receiving, it is vital that he/she is kept safe at all times. This involves ensuring that the wheelchair itself is safe before it is used. It’s important that you never attempt to adjust the wheelchair while someone is sitting it in it. This can cause you undue pressure and pain while also putting the wheelchair user in danger.
The U.K.’s Autochair insists that you always ensure that the wheelchair is in the right position before you start. “Flip up the armrests and swing out the footrests, or even remove them entirely, to prevent clothing snagging or any injury to the wheelchair user or yourself,” advises its website, “Stand the wheelchair level or slightly lower than where you are moving your friend or family member from, facing you.”
3. Pull up a seat for conversations instead of bending down.
It’s understandable if you feel the need to constantly bend down to speak to the wheelchair user you’re assisting. It’s important, however, to remember that while he/she may be contending with a disability, he/she isn’t likely to have any issues with hearing. Some wheelchair users feel that it’s demeaning when people constantly bend down to speak to them. Just because you’re facing down when speaking, it doesn’t mean you’re talking down to your loved one.
“Bending down to speak to a wheelchair user is patronizing and should be avoided at all costs,” advises Avacare Medical, “If you find it difficult to maintain eye contact while standing, pull up a seat… Don’t make the wheelchair user crane their neck for long periods of time so they can speak to you – take a seat and let the conversation flow more naturally.”
Do you have a loved one who requires a wheelchair?
At LifeCare Mobility Solutions, we proudly offer both manual and power wheelchairs from a number of manufacturers. To learn more, please don’t hesitate to call us at 416-267-9800 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact us by filling out the form on our Contact page!