Living with a Physically Disabled Partner Or Family Member

When someone has a partner who is physically challenged or physically disabled, the lives and everyday routine in the household becomes instantaneously and often irrevocably different. Every situation needs to be assessed from a totally different point of view. At this point the family will need to stop and think and consider things like placement of furniture and other supporting household items. In addition the emotional aspects of the disabled person must be taken into consideration, as they spend a lot of time immobile or is suffering by either pain or pain medications. Not only the financial aspect of the family, but also the sexual aspect of the disabled and his /her partner play a crucial role in the survival of their relationship.

Living Quarters and Home Environment

Modern homes are increasingly becoming the places which are appropriate for the  healthcare delivery and self management system for the physically disabled patients. However managing their health care at home is a challenge which is being faced by the patients as well as their families because of the vulnerability to their own home environments. In a house where there is a disabled or physically challenged person, the members of the household need to consider how the disabled person might have to adjust and cope with getting around that obstacle. It is a well known fact that the majority of vulnerable individuals do not receive appropriate healthcare facilities for the chronic illnesses, neither do they live in a house that supports their independence or functioning.

For example while leaving a coffee table in the middle of the floor in a living room is often quite acceptable in a normal home. Throw rugs which have long been used in the home for decoration can now become a possible trip and fall hazard for the disabled person. Older adults are specifically at a higher risk of falls. The environmental factors which implicate the fall of older persons includes slippery surfaces, insufficient lighting, worn out carpets, badly arranged furniture, poorly designed bathrooms, and staircases without an appropriate railing. Moreover the physical layout of the homes can put search individuals at a higher risk of accidents which make the daily living activities more difficult to perform and even mandates the need to move to a different home with the facility of assisted living and nursing care.  

The family can also expect that the disabled person will have a rather steep adjustment curve. This person is often going from a rather active former lifestyle to one where they are often close to sedimentary. Things that the person could easily do without a thought now become a challenge to do. Whatever the case, the focus should be on returning to normal life as soon as possible and this means making changes for everybody’s comfort and convenience. For example, adaptive driving hand controls may be one of the many changes that can be made to give a loved one the ability to return to a better level of functioning. It will still allow everybody to use the family car and return some level of independence back to the disabled family member.

The one thing that is important to consider in this situation is to take into consideration the feelings of the individual that has the disability. It is often very helpful to include them in discussions about the arrangements and the problems that might be foreseen. The disabled person might think that some of the spouses concerns are not founded and on the flip side of that, something that might not have even crossed the minds of the spouse could end up being a huge concern for the disabled person who will have to deal with it.


Coping with Life with a Disabled Partner


Life with a disabled partner may be a challenge for everyone concerned to attempt to learn and cope with the disability. It is not only the person that has a disability that is going to have issues to deal with. The spouse and other family members will also have some issues to deal to be able to make it through this challenge in a healthy and safe manner for everyone concerned.

Often times when the family looks at the disability and the home where the disabled person is living they might see that there are some actual modifications that will need to be made to the home in order to make it hospitable and safe for the disabled person. It is important to consider the expected length of the disability and the severity in making a plan for the overall project. Remember that the disabled person is already feeling like a burden and the more that you can alleviate that feeling and give them independence, the better they will feel and the faster they will improve. Even with a permanent disability, the family member may still want the level of independence that they enjoyed prior to the onset of the disability.

Wheelchair accessibility at home by building an entrance or exit ramp might need to be installed for wheel chairs. Or perhaps the disabled person is going to need some changes made to the shower or the toilet is in order for them to be able to safely use the area. A host of mobility  aids are available that can make simple procedures more easier for the disabled family member. Certain small changes can enhance the living quality of the disabled patients, which include special beds with a feature to raise height and change position, pressure relieving mattresses like gel mattresses or water mattresses, installation of grab bars along the staircase and in the toilets, installation of raised toilet seats, installing light switches at the top and bottom of stairs, widening of the door ways and installing a ramp or stair lift.

In addition the Tele-health technologies play a crucial role in the delivery of the healthcare services via telecommunication.  It is used to link the care recipients and the caregivers to the external healthcare providers and include the telephone calls, an online course, remote monitoring, and a portal to store and send vital information. The devices used are small and wireless and can be integrated or embedded with other devices and Systems.

Modifications of the home, adoption of the newer available technologies and some training can easily make the family’s life easier. Unmet needs of such modifications can be assessed by trained occupational or physical therapist who can evaluate the potential problems and advice appropriate solutions necessary in the home.

1 Comment

  1. I have not signed up for disability, but my doctor declared me disabled for handicapped parking due to my multiple medical conditions, including 3 herniated thoracic discs, spinal arthritis, spondylosis, amoung other issues.
    The condo. complex where we live assigns parking spaces for each unit, but will not allow me to park my pick up truck in our appointed space.
    The truck is a more comfortable ride for me then conventional cars, but they do not want pick ups on the property. We were NOT aware of this rule, so we asked for an exception.
    What they told me is, I can park my truck in my spot on days I NEED it, however, it has to be on the street by nightfall. This is a painful walk for me to make, and was wondering what my rights are, even if I do not collect disability thru my own choice.

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