It’s unquestionably a huge change, adjusting to becoming a wheelchair user. Fortunately you can expect a lot of support from healthcare professionals, including doctors of various types, nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists.
For many people, a caregiver in the immediately family or the home may be available to assist you with day to day activities as well. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a full-time caregiver, though. Or, your life situation may be such that you’re living by yourself at this point in time. If that’s the case, there’s still a lot that you can do to facilitate living independently as a wheelchair user.
Make changes to your environment.
There’s a lot that can be done to make your home more accessible to you as a wheelchair user. It may take some help from both professionals and family or friends to evaluate your living space and make the appropriate changes. But it is certainly possible to modify things so that it’s easier for you to function productively, even living by yourself. A good start is cleaning and organizing so you can more easily get to and reach things you need to use frequently. You may also want to install guide rails, an entrance ramp, and make modifications to kitchen and bathroom to make things easier on yourself.
Exercise to build your strength.
If you’re living by yourself, you’re going to need a little more strength to do various things around the house. These include transferring in and out of the wheelchair, dressing yourself, and even moving the wheelchair when necessary. There are lots of exercises that you can do as a wheelchair user that strengthen the muscles that you need to perform these tasks. There are exercise DVDs that you can buy which are targeted specifically for people in a wheelchair. A physical therapist or occupational therapist should be able to provide some additional support in this area as well.
Try to maintain a positive outlook.
I know, this is much easier said than done. But the last thing you need at this crucial time is to slip into depression or despair. Your life has been changed dramatically, but you can actually do most things as a wheelchair user that everyone else can do. Try to find activities, social interaction, and even sports that you can participate in.
Seek out support and help as needed.
This may sound like the wrong suggestion for an article about living by yourself. But being independent doesn’t mean that you live in a vacuum. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. It just means that you know your limitations.
By the same token, if friends or family offer help that isn’t needed, you can decline graciously, letting them know that you’ve got a particular situation under control, but appreciate the offer. You never know when you may actually need their help, and you don’t want to alienate those who care about you and want to assist you.
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