Helping a Loved One Adapt to Life in a Wheelchair

Helping a Loved One Adapt to Life in a Wheelchair



Having your life transition from a fully able-bodied to a wheelchair bound person can extremely difficult to handle. If you have a loved one who is now in a wheelchair, know that they would do anything in their power to be out of it, but unfortunately can only make the best of it. You can be a part of helping them adapt to this drastic change in lifestyle as it will need some getting used to.


  1. Trying Your Best to Understand Their Loss


You must first try your best to understand the gravity of loss that they have suffered. A new wheelchair user struggles with not just their physical losses, but also their morale and self-esteem. They may never return to their normal physical self and it can be overwhelming for the both of you, so as you try to understand and accommodate them, remember to also keep your own mental health in check.


  1. Helping Them Manage Their Expectations


Every wheelchair user had expectations and goals before the wheelchair. They may still have the same goals but it is important to help them manage their expectations. Be realistic and honest about the expectations, but ease into it. It will take time but it is important because something that might not have been sensitive previously may cause a major mental breakdown. If needed, consult a therapist.


  1. Encouraging Them to Talk About It


Communication is underrated. In any relationship, communication is key. Communicating with someone who has gone through a major life-changing event requires a lot of patient and active listening. Encourage them to open up about their feelings and expectations, listen to them, and give positive feedback. Try your best to focus on their well-being.


  1. Working With Them to Create New Goals


As they learn to manage their expectations, they will need new goals. Work with them to create more realistic goals. Start with smaller goals and slowly push them to achieve bigger ones. If they get frustrated from not achieving anything, try to cultivate patience and encourage them to try again. It can be very easy to give up when nothing seems to be working the way you want it to.


  1. Being There to Help, but Also Allowing Them to be Independent


Yes, you may feel for them and try to assist them with everything at every chance, but sometimes you have to resist helping them. It will slowly build their confidence and motivate them to be more independent. It they want to be independent, assist them. Being dependent can also be very frustrating.


  1. Being There to Help Them with Whatever They Need


In the beginning, they may need a lot of help and assistance. Be there. You might not even need to help them with a lot of things, but offer help whenever you can. Let them know that they don’t have to be alone in adapting. As they slowly learn to manage themselves, you can ease of on the help and advocate independence.


  1. Maintaining Your Relationship with Them


It is very important to try and maintain your routines with them. For example, if you used to have breakfast together every Sunday, keep to it. Or if you used to send them a morning text, keep sending them. Let them know that regardless of the situation, your relationship with them is the same and will not change.


  1. Encouraging Them to Give Former Hobbies and Interest a Try


If they had former hobbies and interests that can be pursued from a wheelchair, encourage them to try. If adjustments must be made, assist them. Help them understand that not everything needs to change.


  1. Researching and Keeping Up to Date with Them


There will be plenty of research needed in the whole adapting phase. Be part of that. Do some research not just for them, but also for yourself. Keep yourself updated and let them know that you are in it together.


  1. Assisting Them Pursue Better Alternatives


If possible, help them with better alternatives like getting a better wheelchair, or getting assistive accessories and tools that will add convenience to their daily routines.