Life On Wheels–Focus On What You CAN Do, Not What You Can’t
Authored by Jamie Benjamin
Using a wheelchair is a massive adjustment for older people who’ve had little to no health or mobility issues for most of their lives. If you’re adjusting to life on wheels, one of the best things you can do is to focus on what you can do, rather than on the things you can’t.
There will be times when it seems like doing that is easier said than done. But by following through with this, you should find it easier to live a fulfilling life.
Let’s explore a few tips on how to adjust to life on wheels.
1. Give Yourself Grieving Time
Huge changes in life can come with a sense of loss that is usually accompanied by grief. Allow yourself the time and space to grieve before you accept the circumstances and focus on your new scope of ability.
You may feel tempted to suppress your feelings, but it’s important not to give in to that temptation. According to HelpGuide’s Melinda Smith, allowing yourself to feel grief and to deal with it actively is an intrinsic part of working through it. She added you should allow yourself to do this without judging yourself or your feelings. You’ll have good days, bad days, and OK days, and that’s perfectly normal. You don’t need to pretend that you’re feeling fine when you’re not.
2. Let Go And Accept
It’s unhealthy to let grief linger over your change in circumstance indefinitely. Accept that the days when your body was more mobile are in the past. If you focus on what you can’t do, you’re likely to start feeling depressed.
When you let go of the past, you can accept the present and look to the future with renewed confidence and hope. Smith wrote you might find it easier to accept life on wheels by focusing on what you can do in a wheelchair and letting those things inspire you.
3. Educate Yourself
Strengthen your sense of independence by educating yourself about the reason(s) you’re in a wheelchair, your rights, and the resources that can help you enhance your quality of life. If you’re receiving in-home care, you might find that you start to feel empowered and as though you’re collaborating with your caregivers, rather than feeling helpless or that you’ve surrendered your independence to them.
4. Find New Hobbies
Some of your favorite activities may no longer be appropriate or easy once you start using a wheelchair. Rather than letting that leave you feeling defeated or sad, channel your energy into finding new activities that you enjoy.
Besides discovering a whole new world of interests, you might even find new ways to take part in hobbies, especially if you have an electric wheelchair that gives you a greater degree of mobility than before.
5. Exercise Your Body
Being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean being unfit. Paralympic athletes prove you can still achieve near-peak condition in the right circumstances. Of course, you don’t need to aim for gold at the next Paralympic Games. But you can exercise daily, or a few times a week.
Exercise is good for the body and mind. Besides strengthening your muscles and supporting mobility, circulation, and more, it can help relieve stress, tension, depression, and anxiety. Being physically active may help you get a good night’s sleep too.
6. Be Realistic And Patient With Yourself
The more you focus on what you can do, the more you’ll find things to keep you busy, healthy, and fulfilled. You might feel fired up by enthusiasm, which could lead to setting a few goals that are unrealistic. That ultimately could lead to you feeling frustrated and disappointed.
Smith explained that disability forces you to relearn to do simple tasks and to learn new ways of doing things, and it’s important to be patient with yourself when doing this. “Every small step forward counts. Eventually, you’ll get there.”
A New Chapter In Your Life
Starting to use a wheelchair is not the end of the story of your life. Rather, it’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Let it be one in which life on wheels is better when you focus on what you can do, and not on what you can’t.
About Jamie: With a passion for writing, Jamie Benjamin loves to get creative on topics covering health and wellness, self care, mindfulness, and fitness. For Jamie, self care means going on a hike with a friend, reading a good book by John Irving, or having a huge slice of apple pie (with a scoop of ice cream).