How To Empower Individuals Living With Disability
As we shared in this recent blog post, disability comes in many forms and can be physical or developmental (intellectual). Regardless of the nature of the disability that someone lives with, at Lift & Care Systems, we believe each and every individual challenged by disability deserves to live the best possible quality of life, be encouraged to do so and given the support they need to optimize life quality.
So, how can you empower someone living with disability to ensure their life quality is maximized? Follow the two broad categories of actions below!
Steps To Empower Individuals Living With Disability From A Physical Standpoint
- Take the time to ask those struggling with disability about their physical challenges to uncover the following:
- What tasks are they most upset about because of inability to complete them on their own? What tasks would they most prefer to do by themselves if they were able?
- What tasks are they able to complete that most assume they can’t?
- What parts of their home, do they most wish they could visit more frequently, either on their own or with someone’s help?
- Revisit both durable medical equipment (DME) and patient lift options available for purchase or lease, and the DME and/or patient lifts to which the individual living with disability already has access. New innovations in the nature and features of DME and patient lifts are regularly being introduced, so it’s important to keep informed of new products and product capabilities. As outlined here, maximizing available equipment provides both dignity and independence to individuals living with disability.
Steps To Empower Individuals Who Live With Disability From An Emotional Standpoint
It’s likely just human nature – but we all can retrain our brains, right? – to too quickly conduct a task for an individual who lives with disability that they are capable of doing themselves. The aforementioned jumping to conclusions and/or immediate action makes individuals with disability feel belittled, misunderstood, and frustrated.
- Take the time to ask an individual challenged with disability how you can best assist them and what’s the best way to communicate with them about when they need your help – particularly, when they need that help in front of other friends and/or family members. For example, while someone with Multiple Sclerosis may have trouble walking, they may still have great upper body strength, and not need someone to help them lift or move something.
- Read everything you can about the disability or chronic illness of a loved one, or someone with whom you’ll be interacting for the first time, particularly about what some of the symptoms and challenges of the health condition are. This will help you understand what the daily life and limitations of an individual struggling with disability are. However, keep in mind that many people with chronic illness and disability have learned to adapt to their particular health situation, and may be able to participate in certain activities and tasks that you wouldn’t expect, and that ties nicely into the point below this one…
- Follow the individual with disability’s lead, when uncertain about whether to offer help, unless they are in danger of falling or getting hurt if you don’t automatically intervene without a request from them to do so.
- Consider whether or not you should talk about activities you are participating in yourself, or participating in with mutual friends or family member, if the individual living with disability is unable to participate because of the limitations of their intellectual or physical disability.
- When speaking with an individual who lives with disability, do not refer to them as a “disabled individual.” If you have a need for calling out the fact to the individual in-question that they are disabled, or need to speak with them about others who are disabled, use the terms “individual living with disability” or “individual with disability” vs. “disabled individual.”
- Make eye contact when speaking with an individual with disability, and be sure not to “talk down” to them. Most physical disabilities don’t impact someone’s intellect, and in the case where someone is developmentally/intellectually disabled, simplify language used, only as appropriate.
- Advocate for the individual in-question.
- If and when you see others treating an individual with disability inappropriately -- as long as you don’t believe it will endanger you to do so -- inconspicuously pull the “offender” aside and make recommendations on how they could treat or interact with the individual with disability differently.
- If the individual living with disability has shared health updates with you or given you a good indication of what their daily life challenges are, ask if it would be okay if you shared that information with mutual friends and family members (and confirm specific names), so that those mutual connections might better understand how to support and empower the mutual loved one.
- Participate in activities that support awareness of and research funds for the disability or chronic illness in-question by:
- Attending a fundraising event like a dinner or dance that both raises research funds while educating event attendees
- Participate in a walk, run, or other athletic fundraising activity (we call them “exercise for a cause” events) that support both research and awareness.
Always Here To Help Regarding Patient Lift And Other DME Needs
The team of disability & aging in place experts and durable medical specialists at Lift & Care Systems has been helping individuals living with disability in MA, CT, and RI enjoy the best quality of life and greater independence for almost 30 years. Our skilled team can install and teach you how to correctly use one or several of the following types of products that help both seniors and disabled individuals enjoy more freedom and a higher quality of life: ceiling lifts, body support & slings, staircase lift chairs, wheelchair ramps, bathroom safety for seniors, mobile lifts, pool lifts, vertical platform lifts, accessible showers, wall-to-wall patient lifts.
Reach out for a free consultation about how we can help you and your loved one related to accessibility and safety DME needs.