Same person, different abilities
This topic is very personal for me. My mother, who lived an extraordinarily active and healthy life until age 75, suddenly found herself using a wheelchair for mobility after a car accident. While driving one day, she experienced a mini-stroke and lost control of her car, hitting a large stone wall head on. Thankfully, she survived, but her recovery required months in the hospital, followed by years of rehabilitation.
Mom accepted her limitations with a usual positive attitude, but it wasn’t easy. She hated having to rely on others because, in the past, she was always the “helper”, not the person needing assistance. She learned to graciously accept help when needed, though she continued to do whatever she could on her own.
Life in a wheelchair was difficult for mom, but she coped well with her “new normal”. What bothered her more than her physical limitations was the way people looked at her once in the wheelchair. If they looked at her at all, that is. She was the same person, but treated very differently. Why do people make negative assumptions about people with disabilities?
Why are people uncomfortable around people using a wheelchair?
When out and about, I noticed strangers avoided making eye contact with Mom and looked over her head. If one of us happened to be nearby, they sometimes spoke to us…about her…as if she were invisible.
Occasionally someone spoke directly to her, but talked loudly and slowly as though she had a hearing impairment or possible dementia. Mom was sharper at her advanced age than most people 30 years younger. There was nothing wrong with her brain and she was not deaf. She simply could no longer walk easily.
At a wedding, I saw people looking at Mom with pity, something she did not want or need. Very few people other than immediate family took the time to sit down and keep her company.
I know people are sometimes uncomfortable with situations with which they are unfamiliar. Or perhaps they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing and unintentionally offending the other person. Plus, we are taught early on not to stare, so avoidance is often the knee-jerk reaction. I get it. I just wish it were different.
So how do you treat someone in a wheelchair?
The best way to talk to someone in a wheelchair is to talk to them as you would anyone else. Ignore the disability and look at the person in front of you. Here are some basic tips that might help:
Speak directly to them
Do not ignore the person in the wheelchair and talk only to the able-bodied person with them. This behavior is frustrating to the individual in the wheelchair. Let them know you are interested in what they have to say.
Make eye contact
Don't look over their head, look at their eyes. If you expect the conversation to last more than a couple of minutes, pull over a chair so you can more easily converse eye to eye.
Do not touch the wheelchair
To a wheelchair user, the wheelchair is part of their personal space. Some consider it an extension of their body. Do not touch or move a person's wheelchair unless invited to do so.
Ask before you help
You might want to help if you observe someone with a disability experiencing difficulty, but always ask before helping. The person with the disability may want to try to do whatever they can on their own first, even if difficult for them. Most people prefer to try to be as independent as possible, and if it turns out they do need help, your assistance will likely be very much appreciated.
Challenging the negative disability stereotypes
Sadly, my mom passed away four years ago at age 83. As one of her caregivers, I learned a lot over the eight years she used a wheelchair. As a result of this experience, I became a passionate advocate for disability rights.
As the Publisher of 50PlusToday, an online senior lifestyle magazine, I have a platform where I can educate people about all aspects of aging, including accessibility. I work diligently to help people live their best lives as long as possible, as safely as possible. I also try to educate the general population about ways to be more inclusive. Below are some of my favorite articles from the 50PlusToday online magazine related to accessibility.
Approximately 20 percent of the American population lives with some sort of disability, according to the latest US Census data. Statistically, about 10% live with a visible physical disability or some type of mobility impairment. More than three million people in the U.S. use a wheelchair full-time.
These are not small numbers! To effect change, we each need to do our small part to help make the world a better place for those who need a little extra help.
I challenge you to start today. When you next encounter a person in a wheelchair, stop and say hello. No need to even offer to help or comment on their situation; simply make eye contact and greet them as a regular person. Because they are a regular person. People with disabilities have full lives with interesting stories and experiences to share. The hardest part of disability is being ignored.
Try to see the person, not the disability.
Written by Leslie Farin, Publisher 50Plus-Today, Online Senior Lifestyle Magazine
Grandparent Scams and Fraud are on the RISE!Fraud is on the rise, and one of the most popular scams is the Grandparent Scam. This scam hit close to home when my step-father, who lives in Mississippi received an odd call from a man claiming to be my son. The caller had greeted him with, Hi Grandpa, its Chris. Ive been in a car accident, Im bleeding and in jail. I need you to call my lawyer. The caller sounded a bit like my son, but it made no sense that he would be calling his grandpa two states away for help. I checked in on my son, who was sound asleep in his bed and had not been in an accident. My step-father had been the target of a Grandparent Scam! Grandparent Scams involve an imposter posing as a grandchild who is in trouble: theyve been in an accident, or arrested. Once they have the grandparent concerned and ready to help, they hand the phone off to another scammer posing as a police officer or lawyer who then will make arrangements to have the grandparent wire money to them. This scam is on the rise, but you can protect yourself by following these 5 tips: 1) Set privacy settings on your social media accounts. 2) Ask questions that only your grandchild could answer. 3) Tell the caller you will call them back, then call your grandchilds cell number. 4) Contact other family members to verify the story. 5) Trust your gut instinct. Fraud targeting older people should be reported to the FTC at 877-382-4357. Article submitted by Lori Williams with Lori Williams Senior Services
WHEN IS OVERNIGHT CARE NEEDED FOR SENIORS? Overnight care becomes very important for seniors and their families when comprehensive care is needed. Many seniors require help with daily activities such as bathing, eating, and grocery shopping. However, a greater benefit is seen with seniors who suffer from progressive conditions such as Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia. What is Overnight Care & Who Can BenefitOvernight care is when a caregiver provides care through the night. For example, they help with using the restroom at night, provide fluids and snacks, and assists the senior with getting ready for bed. Some seniors receive help with transfer assistance and changing positions in bed throughout the night. Overnight caregivers also prepare breakfast and offer morning care such as personal hygiene and home care.Overnight care is best for those seniors who have trouble sleeping at night or who wander due to dementia. Having a caregiver available at night gives them assurance, relieves anxiety and disorientation due to disrupted sleep. Benefits of Overnight CareOvernight care gives peace of mind to your family, as you can rest assured that a highly qualified individual is providing constant care to their loved one. NIGHTTIME SUPERVISION Many seniors can wander at night due to dementia or similar conditions as they tend to experience disrupted sleep and disorientation. Frequent wakefulness that leads to wandering at night and can be dangerous. Not only can the senior be at risk for falling, but in general, seniors with these conditions should not be alone at night. An overnight caregiver can monitor them and help as needed. MEDICAL CARE In the case that a senior has epilepsy or other medical conditions and needs constant supervision, an overnight caregiver who is qualified for the specific type of care needed can help them deal with any medical condition if it gets worse. Family members can rest assured that their loved one is getting the best care possible in the case that their condition flairs up, or they face an emergency. MOBILITY ASSISTANCE Many seniors can wander at night due to dementia or similar cIf the senor must use the restroom at night, the overnight caregiver can help. This way the senior can get to the restroom safely with the help of the caregiver. ERATIC BEHAVIOR Dementia can cause a change in personality and emotional outbursts. Leaving a senior with dementia at home at night can be dangerous, so having an overnight caregiver can help prevent the seniors with these conditions from facing dangerous situations. MEDICATION SCHEDULES Forgetting to take medications is common behavior for the elderly, especially if they are alone. Some medications such as the ones for blood pressure, must be taken regularly to avoid bad consequences. An overnight caregiver can remind the senior to take the medication before bed. FORGETFULNESS For those seniors that are extremely forgetful, it can be very beneficial to have an overnight caregiver. Seniors who are forgetful can leave the stove on and even leave their doors open. A highly qualified overnight caregiver can monitor their environment and help keep them safe. DEPRESSION As seniors get older, they can have depressive thoughts. An overnight caregiver can help support them emotionally and provide companionship to help prevent them from harming themselves while they are in a depressed state. Article submitted by Robbie McCullough with Assisting Hands Home Care | www.assistinghands.com/38/texas/prestonhollow/
What is Medication Management?Medication management is the process of ensuring the medications prescribed for a patient are taken properly and achieving their planned, therapeutic outcome.A critical aspect of successful medication management is medication adherence which means taking the right dose, at the right time, in the right way and frequency.Many patients do not follow health-care provider instructions on how to take medications for various reasons. Such as, not understanding the directions, forgetfulness, multiple medications with different regimens, unpleasant side effects or the medication doesnt seem to be working.Importance of Medication Management?20 to 30 percent of new prescriptions are never filled at the pharmacy.Medication is not taken as prescribed 50 percent of the time.For patients prescribed medications for chronic diseases, after six months, the majority take less medication than prescribed or stop the medication altogether.Only 51 percent of patients taking medications for high blood pressure continue taking their medication during their long-term treatment.The results of this are poor health outcomes, increased doctor visits, potential overdoses, and increased readmissions to the hospital, particularly for people with chronic conditions.Prolonged illness can weaken immune systems and physical strength, causing additional illness or falls. And poor outcomes can land patients back in the hospital or on a revolving door of doctor visits.Your pharmacist is an expert in medications, find one that you trust to work with you and your doctor on how best to take your medications.Tips For Managing Medications:If medication side effects are bothering you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist immediately to find a solution.Make sure you understand how long to take the medication.Tell your doctor or pharmacist if medication cost is an issue.For example, our pharmacist can help shop coupons for you to manage costs.Set daily routines to take medication.Keep medications where youll notice them.Use daily dosing containers or RX Med Packs.Keep a written or computerized schedule for reminders.Active Ways To Stay On Top Of Your MedicationsAsk your doctor for a current medication list at the end of each visit.Bring a detailed list of your medications, including name, dosage, and regimen to each doctor's appointment.Taking photos of the prescription labels using a smartphone may be useful.Ask your doctor or pharmacy about the benefits of pharmacy pill packs" or other medication management services.Visit with your doctor or pharmacist about known drug interactions with supplements or other the counter medications.Seek recommendations and information on an automated, pill reminder app.Keep Your Medications SafeKeep your medications out of direct sunlight and heat.Keep your medicine away from pets and children.Don't store your medications with other family member medicines or household cleaners.Keep medicines in their original bottles.Dispose of expired medications/medications you no longer useEnsure you communicate all medications you are taking with your doctors.Article submitted by Oaklawn Pharmacy. To learn more about Med Packs call 214-954-7389 or visit www.oaklawnpharmacy.com
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