Using a wheelchair for the first time can be a big adjustment at any age, but especially for seniors, who are usually fiercely holding onto their independence. Whether it’s due to an accident, an illness, or just a general loss of mobility as you age, a wheelchair can actually help you regain your freedom and ultimately make your life much easier.
If you’ve recently found yourself living in a wheelchair, our team at UMC has put together a checklist to help you adjust to your new normal. We know this might be an overwhelming time for you, and it is completely normal to experience a range of emotions. We hope these tips help as you navigate the adjustment period!
Attitude Is Key
Have you ever heard the expression “the power of positive thinking”? Indeed, thinking positively can be very powerful, but it can be hard work to not let the negative thoughts win. Rather than viewing yourself as “confined” to a wheelchair, instead think of your wheelchair as your gateway to freedom and resuming your life as normal. If you were unable to walk even very short distances before, your wheelchair will open you up to be mobile, and out and about in the world.
We also recommend joining a local support group for wheelchair users. You’ll make friends who understand what you’re going through, be able to share mental health tips and funny stories, and you form life-long connections in your community.
Follow A Personalized Exercise Plan
Just because you’re using a wheelchair doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – have you ever seen the Paralympics? Once you feel comfortable in your chair, work with your doctor to develop a personalized exercise plan. It may include arm, chest, core, and shoulder exercises using dumbbells or cable machines at the gym, as well as stretches and mobility exercises to keep your joints healthy, flexible, and strong.
Some gyms also have personal trainers who specialize in working with people in wheelchairs, so if you want to get serious about fitness, this may be an option for you.
Give Yourself Time To Adjust
Repeat this to yourself: patience is key. You can’t expect to adjust to a big life change overnight, and it’s completely normal to cycle through a range of emotions, from frustration to hopefulness to sadness to positivity. Be patient and kind with yourself. While you’re giving yourself time to adjust, it helps to keep yourself busy with activities and hobbies you enjoy. Getting out into the world and living your life in your wheelchair can help you have a smoother adjustment.
Be Open About When You Need Help And When You Don’t
There is never any shame in asking for help or support. Whether it’s from a family member, a caregiver, or a close friend, we all need help from time to time and as you get used to living with your wheelchair, you’ll probably need some help every once in a while.
We suggest creating a check-in system with your family if they live close by, where you can text or call to check-in with each other once a day.
If you’d like more information about how to adjust to life with a wheelchair, or if you have any questions about senior living options that foster independence for adults of all ability levels, please contact our team at UMC today. We look forward to hearing from you, and maybe welcoming you soon!
To learn more, please visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org/
This blog was originally published at https://umcommunities.org/umc-corp/blog/living-in-a-wheelchair/