Ways to Help a Wheelchair User

Is your friend or loved one in a wheelchair and you are wondering how you can help them? If you would like to help them in more ways, you should start to understand the basic parts of a wheelchair. 

Knowing the basic parts and structure of a chair will be helpful with properly handling the wheelchair.

When properly handling a wheelchair, be sure to firmly grip the handles.

Whether you are going up or down stairs, you would typically tilt the wheelchair and balance on the rear wheelchairs. Use your body and weight to help keep the chair balance.

However, the first thing you can do to help them is to ask how you can help. Not only is this polite and considerate, but it shows you are available to them without overstepping.

 

 

Don’t grab someone’s wheelchair without their permission. It is basically an extension of that person and is well within their personal space.

After you asked and they have told you that they do need help here are something, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind.

If you are asked to help them off a curb, be sure to explicitly communicate with them what you are doing. Whether this is tilting the chair or maneuvering down steps, communication is key.

Should you find yourself pushing the wheelchair, always try for smooth and gentle moves avoiding rushing or rough handling. When in doubt, just ask how them how they prefer to be moved or lifted.  

Remember, chances that they know their chair better than you are high so don't be afraid to ask for help if you are folding or unfolding their chair.

Give them clear directions about distance, weather, and any other physical obstacles that may affect their travels.

Treat them like everyone else because they are still a person just like you. Treat them the same way you expect to be treated. They are still the same person you’ve always known.

Help prevent them from falling or tipping over by keeping the floor and ground clear of clutter. If they are coming over to your home, keep your floors clean and clear. If you are going out and you see an obstruction that they may not see, move it out of the way.

Ray Galan