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July 28, 2016

Removing the Stigma of Assistive Devices

assertive devices

Rapid innovation in the medical technology field has improved the quality of life for millions of people, and yet many of them—including seniors—are reluctant to embrace assistive devices because of the perceived stigma attached. It’s unfortunate that anyone would consider wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility devices to be embarrassing when they greatly add to a person’s quality of life while keeping them safe.

Aside from increased mobility, assistive equipment provides other medical benefits such as enhanced circulation and improved cardiorespiratory function. These benefits are especially important to the group who use assistive devices the most: adults age 65 and over, who account for 66% of all adult device users. If you have a loved one who is hesitant to use mobility equipment, try these tips to help them overcome the stigma:

Validate concerns

Experiencing illness and disability has profound psychological effects when certain abilities are diminished or lost entirely. This is especially common with seniors who lived healthy, strong, capable lives up until recently. Allow your loved one the space to mourn the passing of that active lifestyle. Then emphasize that transitioning to assistive devices means a “different” lifestyle, not necessarily a “worse” one.

Emphasize benefits

People in need of assistive devices commonly blame the device on their subsequent limitations, instead of the disability or illness that necessitated it. Viewing devices as limiting instead of what they actually are—freeing—can be addressed by pointing out all the benefits, such as improved independent mobility and reduced functional decline. If need be, remind your loved one that their use of the device would decrease your worry and anxiety over their safety.

Personalize the device

Boring, nondescript assistive devices can be quite grim and hard to accept for daily use, so it’s no wonder they’re so often met with trepidation. Fortunately, like orthodontic braces and prescription eyewear years ago, assistive devices are experiencing a renaissance in design. Something as simple as a brightly colored cane or handmade wheelchair cushion can make a world of difference, and there are inspiring ideas to be found online from all over the world.

Confirm suitability

If your loved one still shuns their assistive device (and your offer to bedazzle it) because they “just don’t like it,” there could be a suitability issue to address. Many patients are not instructed on the proper use of their device, or they may have one that is inappropriate, damaged, or the wrong height. Suitability depends on the user’s strength, endurance, balance, cognitive function, and environmental demands, and because all these factors can change over time, it’s important for patients to have their devices routinely evaluated by their healthcare provider to ensure proper height, fit, and maintenance.

Let us help

Whether you need mobility equipment rental for a short-term solution for or you need to purchase an assistive device for a long-term adjustment to daily living, PA Healthcare can help. We have walkers, wheelchairs, hospital beds, rollators, scooters, and more. We also deliver anywhere in San Diego or Imperial Counties. So give us a call and let us help make the transition to a new mobility lifestyle as comfortable as possible.

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