International of People with Disabilities Day, which is held December 3, is not a regional event. The day is sanctioned by the United Nations and its goal is to promote support for individuals coping with disabilities through understanding, education, and awareness. It is estimated that about 20% of the world’s current population living and struggles with some type of disability. Statistics reveal that more than one third of disabled persons are 65 years or older. While there are many different disabilities these generally fall into mental and physical.
Basic Tips to Help the Elderly with Disabilities
- Ensure that elders take their medications in the proper doses, at the scheduled times, and on a daily basis. Discuss the medications and the administering times with them. Never force seniors to take their medicine or talk down to them.
- Get to know seniors focusing on their personalities and not their disabilities. It is extremely helpful to know their schedules which will also ease them into accepting help. Never assume that individuals require constant assistance simply because they are disabled.
- Try to connect with elders and express empathy, not pity, for the obstacles and hurdles which they are confronted with each day.
- Ask, if there is some confusion about the type of assistance that seniors require. They will often be happy to relate that which they need help with. Treat them with the exact same respect all individuals should be treated with. Never patronize elders as this can be hurtful to the point of leaving scars upon their character.
- Respect individuals’ right to decline help even if it appears that they truly need it. Never make them feel as if they are not in control of their own lives.
- Be sure to ask physicians about required accessibility aids such as bedside commodes, shower chairs, and wheel chairs or walkers. Ensure that this equipment is sturdy, functional, and available to seniors. These aids will help assure elder safety and allow them as much freedom as possible. As a side note, never make a big deal of emptying bedchamber pots even in a joking manner. Elders can sometimes be ridiculed by this.
- Be compassionate, if seniors attempt to perform tasks and are unable to complete them. For example, when individuals have bed accidents, do not make a big deal of it and clean it up immediately.
- Place elders grooming necessities within reach to allow them to perform simply hygiene practices themselves. Provide items such as hand held mirrors, brushes, and combs within reach. Repeat this in the bathroom for towels; wash clothes; deodorant; and mouth care.
As mentioned above, this can be an extremely difficult transition for seniors. It is not easier to relinquish control over their lives. The tips above will help them retain as much independence as possible. The ability to care for themselves will increase their overall self-confidence. It is also important to note that many of these measure protect seniors. For example, they may struggle to retrieve a hair brush that is out of reach and fall before actually asking someone for help. Placing everyday use items prevent this entirely.
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