How To Help a Disabled Family Member
When it comes to helping a disabled family member, it can be difficult for the entire family to cope. Not only is the person with the disability dealing with new challenges, but the rest of the family may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to help. Here are four things you can do to support your disabled family member:
Offer Your Help And Support.
Your disabled family member will likely need a lot of help with everyday tasks. Offer to do whatever you can to make their life easier, from running errands to helping with bathing or dressing. Just be sure to ask what they need before you start trying to take over; they may have specific tasks that they prefer to do themselves. If the disability is chronic or lifelong, offer emotional support and practical assistance. Let your family member know that you are there for them, no matter what happens. This can be incredibly important in times of stress or difficulty.
Educate Yourself About The Disability.
It is helpful for the rest of your family to have a basic understanding of the disability your loved one is dealing with, so education about the disability is essential. This doesn’t mean you need to become an expert, but learning some basics will help you understand what they are going through and how best to support them. There are many excellent books and websites on disabilities, so there is no shortage of information out there. Don’t hesitate to ask your disabled family member or doctor if you have specific questions.
Respect Their Independence.
Your loved one is still the same person, with the same likes and dislikes, regardless of their disability. Don’t try to change them or “fix” them; they are who they are for a reason. Respect their independence and autonomy, even if it’s difficult for you to see them struggle. Let your disabled family member make their own decisions and do as many things on their own whenever possible, and offer your support without trying to take over. Allow them to keep their independence, even if it’s only with minor things. This is especially important if you’re disabled yourself; your family member needs to see that you live a full life despite your disability.
Having a disability can be frustrating, both for those with the disability and those around them. Things that were once easy may now be difficult or impossible, and it can take time to adjust. Be patient with your loved ones as they learn to cope with their new reality. If you get frustrated, try to remember that it’s not their fault; they didn’t choose to have a disability and are doing the best they can under the circumstances.
Disabilities can be challenging for families, but there are many things you can do to help your disabled family member live a happy and fulfilling life. Just remember that just because they now have a disability doesn’t mean they are any less deserving of your love and support. With your love and support, they will be able to overcome anything.