Caring for Paralyzed Patients

People who are handicapped and in wheelchairs have sensitivities that the able-bodied often don't even think about. A person who is paralyzed, whether by accident or by birth, looks at the world slightly differently in most cases. When you are in public, you will want to guard against disturbing the emotions of a handicapped person. In private, dealing with a paralyzed person's emotions can be more intimate.

Understand the perspective of the person in the wheelchair. He is grappling with inaccessible physical surroundings as well as possible staring and pointing from passersby.

1. Allow the person who is handicapped to express her emotions if she chooses to do so. You may stand by or walk away, whichever makes you more comfortable.

2. Talk with your friend. Have a conversation in private about how the handicapped person would like you to behave in public and in private. You can't know how to treat someone who is different if you don't ask. Most handicapped adults are aware of their emotions and can articulate to you how they would like you to act when you are with them.

3. Keep your own emotions in check when other people are rude or discriminating toward your friend. People who are paralyzed usually have tough skin and are accustomed to some rude behavior. Let them decide when to express their dissatisfaction with any abuse they feel is being dumped on them.

4. Don't tell a paralyzed person that they shouldn't feel a certain way.

5. Don't interfere if the person has an emotionally charged situation under control.

6. Don't become a rescuer.

7. Don't leave the paralyzed person alone with conflicting emotions if they do need your help. Ask if you can help, then do as requested.

Keeping up on personal hygiene has a tremendous affect on a person's well being, not just physical but emotional, too. A person who is paralyzed may need help with cleaning themselves. Cleaning the skin regularly will help prevent infections, even if a patient is bedridden. Without a well-kept and clean appearance, a person's sense of self-esteem and independence can suffer. Helping them to look their best can go far in helping them feel better.

Things You'll Need:

Basin or container to hold bath water

Lightweight blanket

Wash cloth and bath towel




Place the person in the bathtub if possible. If you can safely lift he or she, a real bath is preferable over a bed bath. Don't leave their side and hold them in a sitting position if necessary. Let them do as much of the cleansing as possible, especially if they have use of their upper body. A hand-held shower head or wet washcloth will help the process.

Bathe the person in their bed at least once a day. Use a warm cloth and run it over their entire body. Dip it in the basin of fresh water often and wring it out. Make sure you monitor the water temperature so it isn't above 120 degrees. When bathed, apply powder, lotion and deodorant.

We had someone come and talk to us at work about this, and she said people become really weird if someone in a wheelchair says, "I'll run back in a second," or a blind person says, "See you later." We need to not take things so literally or seriously. No matter if you can walk, see, or whatever else, you are a person who deserves respect, and the ability to use expressions however you want.

If you are the caregiver for a person who has been paralyzed, you have a lot of responsibility that can seem overwhelming at times. Whether the person is partially paralyzed or completely paralyzed, there are ways to make care easier for everyone concerned.

Know that the care for a paralyzed person will vary depending on the nature of the paralysis and the cause. But whether the paralysis is from accident or illness, you can educate yourself on ways to make life easier. Learn all you can about the needs of your patient. Talk to your patient's doctors and therapists. Ask questions and read books. At the same time, don't allow the circumstances to take over your whole life. The person you are caring for also needs to have distractions from the circumstances surrounding paralysis.

Keep the person's mind active. Talk to the person about what's going on in the lives of family members and friends. Listen to the news together and talk about world events. It's important that the paralyzed person maintains interest in the world around her. She needs to express her thoughts in every way possible. Laugh and encourage visitors to laugh and have fun . The paralyzed person needs something to think about besides her own condition. Watch educational programs together that encourage learning.

Write a daily log of necessary medications, exercises and home-care specialist's visits. As you perform duties such as catheterizations, suppositories for bowel movements or other personal care, be matter of fact and relaxed. Care for a paralyzed person's emotional well-being by putting him at ease during these personal moments. Let him know that you are not bothered by these duties, but consider it a privilege to help.

Remember to keep the paralyzed person moving throughout the day. Change her position at least every 2 hours in order to increase blood circulation. Exercise her limbs carefully according to therapists' instructions. Physical touch and relaxed conversation promote emotional health.

Consider a massage when the budget allows. Many massage therapists make house calls. And not just for the patient. Care for a paralyzed person by also caring for yourself. It's important for you to have ways to relax and regroup. Massage therapy can be beneficial for both you and your patient.

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