Caring for a loved one who has mobility issues can be challenging. But, when an individual requires the use of a wheelchair to get around, your job as his/her caregiver can prove to be even more difficult. This is especially true during the early stages. Helping a loved one adjust to life in a wheelchair is a major adjustment for you as well. And while it may not present a comfortable situation for either of you, there are some techniques that can help you to become stronger in your newfound caregiver role.
Here are three best practices for helping a loved one in a wheelchair:
1. Be ready to be on call.
As mentioned, requiring a wheelchair to get around is a big adjustment for anybody. It takes some getting used to. Remember that your loved one was used to a life where he/she was able to walk around on his/her own. Now that that’s changed, your help may be summoned at any time. If you’re unavailable at any point during the day, be sure to have someone available to replace you as caregiver. Especially during the early stages, it will really help your loved one to be able to depend on getting assistance whenever it’s needed.
“Make it known that you’re there to help with whatever is necessary, and be prepared to do so,” advises Mike Gunion on PantsUpEasy.com, “Be ready to help reaching things above the level of the wheelchair, with dressing, moving in and out of the wheelchair and bed, and even with bathing and going to the bathroom. Eventually your loved will likely develop routines that will allow them to maximize their sense of independence. Of course, how much they can accomplish on their own will depend largely on the type and severity of the damage to their spinal cord.”
2. Learn how to transfer your loved one from a bed to a wheelchair and vice versa.
Naturally, your loved one still deserves a good night’s sleep. And you know he/she won’t be doing that sitting in his/her wheelchair. Making the transition from the wheelchair to the bed and from the bed to the wheelchair will become common practice in your home. It’s important that you’re able to help make it a safe and comfortable experience.
The Cleveland Clinic offers up a helpful three-point tip to make the transitions easy. Firstly, position the wheelchair as close to the bed as possible and make sure that the leg rests are moved out of the way. Be sure to lock the wheels as well. Secondly, get your loved one in an upright position by having him/her roll on his/her side and use his/her upper extremities to prop up and slide his/her legs over the side of the bed.
Finally, help your loved one to stand and pivot. “Have the person lean forward with his nose over his toes to distribute the weight onto his good foot or feet,” explains the Cleveland Clinic, “Then, help guide and pivot him on the weight-bearing foot or feet and lower him into the chair.”
3. Reconfigure the home so that it is wheelchair-friendly.
Your loved one isn’t the only one who will be in transition now that he/she needs a wheelchair for mobility. Your home will require a bit of a makeover as well. The first thing that likely has come to your mind is the need for a ramp so that access in and out of the home is made easier. Consider the fact that there will certainly be moments when your loved one will require your help to get in and out of the wheelchair itself. Ensuring that there is ample space in the home and that it is free of tripping hazards is of paramount importance.
“Chances are that there’s a lot that can be done to make the home easier to navigate for someone in a wheelchair,” believes Gunion, “Hopefully your loved one is already working with an occupational therapist, who will help identify the modifications that will help your loved one. Installing guide rails in strategic locations, and ramps instead of stairs at entrances, are just a couple of the home enhancements that make life in a wheelchair so much easier.”
At Advantage Home Health Solutions, we place a great deal of importance on the safety of our clients. This is always our primary concern when discussing solutions for their mobility issues. If you have any questions about the wheelchairs and other mobility solutions that Advantage Home Health Solutions has to offer, please don’t hesitate to contact us to ask them.
Give us a call at 403-460-5438. You may also email us by filling out the form on our Contact Page!