How to Support a Loved One to Adjust to Using a Wheelchair

A sudden or gradual loss of mobility can feel devastating. A person will likely struggle with their new limitations and need to process the fact they’ll need to spend their life using a wheelchair.

If your partner, family member, or friend has experienced a debilitating illness or injury, it makes sense that you will want to help them overcome their physical and emotional challenges. Continue reading to learn how to support a loved one adjusting to using a wheelchair.

Talk to Your Loved One

Your loved one will experience many emotions when adjusting to a wheelchair, such as frustration, fear, anger, and embarrassment. Help them process their new normal at a quick rate by encouraging them to discuss their feelings.

Expressing their emotions could help your loved one face their feelings and accept their disability. Once they start discussing their feelings, it is your job to reassure them that they have no reason to experience shame and provide examples of how they can overcome potential challenges.

Find Adaptive Equipment and Devices

Many products and devices are available to help wheelchair users overcome many challenges and maintain their independence. For instance, you can choose from many quality wheelchair accessible cars to help your loved one travel from A to B each day. It will prevent them from feeling confined to their house or neighborhood, as they can travel to work, stores, loved ones’ homes, and social events.

Other supportive products include:

  • Bath seats
  • Raised toilet seats
  • Handrails
  • Bathroom hoists
  • Stairlifts
  • Bed levers

Also, make a loved one’s life much easier by repositioning light switches, door entry systems, sockets, and countertops.

Learn How to Move a Loved One into Bed Comfortably

You may need to safely and comfortably help a loved one move from a wheelchair into a bed, and vice versa. 

The following steps could help you smoothly move them in and out of bed:

  1. Place the wheelchair close to the bed and move the leg rests away
  2. Lock the wheelchair wheels
  3. Sit your loved one in an upright position (if possible, ask them to move on their side or use their upper extremities to prop themselves up)
  4. Slide their legs over the side of the bed
  5. Lean your loved one forward (their nose should be over their toes for even distribution of weight onto their feet)
  6. Either pivot or guide them onto a weight-bearing foot or feet before lowering them into the wheelchair

Review Your Home

Making various changes in the home could prevent challenges for your loved one as they adjust to using a wheelchair. For example, you may need to install a ramp to make it easier for them to enter and leave the home. 

Also, you must remove potential trip hazards and widen doorways to ensure they can move around the home in a wheelchair easily. It will create a safe, comfortable environment, which may minimize their upset and frustrations.