What to Never do When You Care for a Paraplegic

May 25, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

When your loved one becomes paralyzed, it’s going to be a dramatic lifestyle change for everyone involved. It’s not easy for someone to suddenly find themself unable to do much of what they used to, and it’s not easy for the caregiver and family members either. In addition to being hard work, there are a lot of decisions and choices to make, and it’s not always easy to know the best way to handle matters in this new situation. Not all people with paralysis are the same, nor is every situation, so in many cases, there’s no right or wrong way to do things. Here are a few things, however, that you should never do when you care for a paraplegic, under any circumstances.

Leave the patient in the same position for too long.

It’s difficult for a paraplegic to move around, even with your help, and it’s hard work for you. But staying sitting in the same position in the wheelchair, or lying in bed for too long is going to be very likely to cause pressure sores. These injuries are not only painful, but could potentially get infected, particularly in the case of patients who are also incontinent.

Give the patient your “pity”.

You know that the paraplegic is suffering, and they know it too, all too well. They’re painfully aware of all the things they can no longer do for themselves. Have compassion for them, and help them in whatever way, and as much as you’re able to. But don’t remind them that their situation is pitiful or pathetic. Trust me, they think about it more than enough already on their own.

Forget that they need to go to the bathroom.

This is not an easy or a pleasant topic, but it’s important. Some paraplegics suffer from incontinence. Others may be physically able to urinate, but can’t go to the bathroom without help. It’s embarrassing for the patient to ask for help, and it’s awkward, unpleasant, and physically difficult work for you to assist them, I’m sure. But not urinating at regular intervals can lead to a urinary tract infection or more serious bladder or kidney conditions. And you don’t need to add any of those into the mix.

Forget to take care of yourself.

Myself? I thought this was about caring for a paraplegic.”, you may be thinking. But seriously, you’re not going to be much of a caregiver if you don’t take care of yourself. It’s a stressful, exhausting job, and one that requires a lot of stamina and perseverance. Make sure you eat well, get enough sleep, exercise, and don’t neglect your own healthcare.


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