Our society is built for able-bodied people. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act has drastically increased the accessibility of businesses and public infrastructure for those with special needs or medical disabilities, such as those in wheelchairs, that doesn’t mean that living while differently-abled is easy.
Especially for people who need the assistance of a wheelchair because of a traumatic injury from a car crash or similar incident, adjusting to the challenges of life in a wheelchair can be difficult or outright depressing. Watching your loved ones struggle with their new reality after a severe injury can be very difficult.
Thankfully, there are things that you can do that will make life better for you, your loved one in a wheel chair and everyone else in your family.
Be practical in the support that you offer
Don’t just tell your loved one to ask if they need help. Asking for help while adjusting to new limitations can be very difficult. Be proactive, and educate yourself about the experiences of people in wheelchairs living in our society.
From the need for gloves to keep your hands clean to the damage that people’s clothing can suffer because of how buildings don’t accommodate the size of a wheelchair, there are many hardships related to wheelchair use that you might not imagine without the guidance and advice of people who have lived through the same experience as your loved one.
Once you know about the challenges they will face, help them overcome those issues one at the time with practical, hands-on help when necessary or by proactively avoiding problematic scenarios and environments.
Make your household a safe space
It can cost thousands of dollars to retrofit an existing apartment, condo or single-family home into a wheelchair accessible space. Talk with your loved one and determine if they prefer to make those adjustments or if they might prefer to find a property that’s more accessible already.
Embrace the changes that will become necessary to accommodate your loved one’s mobility limitations and make sure that they know they have a safe and accepting home. Much of the process of acclimating to life after a debilitating injury is internal. Still, learning about your loved one’s condition and their needs can make you more compassionate and supportive as they go through this process, which might just make it a little easier for them.