Posted on: 2 April 2015Share
Do you have a friend who has started using crutches? Do you know how to handle the situation when your relative brings their walker when they come for a visit? Have you met a new co-worker that's in a wheelchair? If you've never been around someone with limited mobility, you may feel awkward or socially inept. Here are some dos and don'ts to help you with the situation:
Do ask permission before touching someone's wheelchair: The wheelchair is the personal space of the user and should be respected as if it's part of their body. Putting your feet on their footrest without permission would be like someone putting their feet in your lap. Never propel a wheelchair unprompted. Doing so could not only insult the wheelchair user, it could also cause them to lose their balance in the chair and topple out. At the very least, pushing them when unasked could make them feel that you view them as being needy and unable to care for themselves.
Do not discuss handicapped parking with them: If you have complaints about the way a business handles their parking situation, don't bring up the subject with the disabled person. They don't want to hear about how far you have to walk in a parking lot. They also don't care if you've observed others attempting to cheat the system.
Do ask permission to move any mobility aids: In addition to using the walker for propulsion, your relative may need it to get to their feet from a sitting position. Instead of assuming its in the way and needs to be put in an inconspicuous place, check with your relative to see if they want their walker stashed elsewhere. They may feel that asking you to retrieve their walker when they need to visit the washroom is like asking you permission to walk, so you shouldn't object if they want to keep the walker close at hand.
Don't ask "what happened": If the newest member of your team is in a wheelchair, don't ask them about their disability. Otherwise, it puts the focus on what they can't do, instead of highlighting their skills and talents. Let them decide how and when to discuss their situation with everyone. If you need to satisfy your curiosity, do an online search to find answers to your questions.
Don't ask if you can try out the mobility aids: For a disabled person, their mobility aid is a symbol of self-reliance and independence. Do not disrespect them by treating their aids as if they were toys or new gadgets to enjoy. Show the person proper respect by regarding their equipment as important and meaningful. Contact Twin City Stair Lifts for more information about mobility aids.