Self‐Care Advice For the Physically Disabled

Published: Nov 18, 2016

Self‐care has been talked about a lot lately. While there are a lot of posts out there that can help you discover ways to manage your mental and physical health in times of crisis, I wanted to create something that was geared towards folks with limited mobility.

Keep Good Hygiene

This may sound silly at first, but personal hygiene is usually the first thing to go when our mental state isn’t its healthiest and, unlike our able‐bodied friends and family, this can kill us. I’ve lost more than one friend to a systemic infection brought on by a pressure sore or some other skin wound because they didn’t bathe regularly or check their skin for breakdowns. It’s absolutely critical that you bathe regularly and check your skin for breakdown. Oh, one more thing: for the love of all that’s holy please cath on time. Here’s what happens when you don’t:

  1. You start to smell terrible.
  2. You increase your risk of a skin infection.
  3. You increase your risk of a UTI.
  4. Your kidneys can get damaged.

In addition to the whole staying alive thing, having good hygiene helps improve your self‐image and a good self‐image leads to a healthier you.

Exercise Your Hands

Silly putty, Play‐Doh and stretch‐bands are your friend. When I was little, I had very weak hands and it took hours of mashing and shaping various things in order to get them to where they are today. Get yourself something squishy and mess with it for at least 30 minutes a day (I’m looking at you, Cerebral Palsy folks).

Get Out of the Chair

This is important for two reasons:

  1. It gives your a chance to shift your body‐weight and relieve pressure.
  2. It keeps your transfer skills sharp

It is absolutely critical that you have the ability to get out of your wheelchair and into another chair / vehicle as independently as possible. Being able to transfer can be the difference between ending up with a nasty skin infection and not. Always be able to transfer out of your chair.

Get Your Heart Rate Up

Heart failure kills a lot of us. It’s important that you take the time to get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes a few times a week. This can be as simple as extend your arms and moving them in little circles to as intense a pushing up a big hill. Having trouble getting outside? Get yourself to the floor and do as many half‐pushups (push ups without worrying about leg position) as fast as you can. I’ve easily gotten my heart‐rate up to 160+ doing this.

Establish Meaningful Routines

Routines are a great way to cope with a stressful situation. Consistency gives a sense of control. Here’s an example of things you can build a routine around:

  1. Eat a nutritionally‐balanced breakfast consistently.
  2. Go to bed at a time that’s reasonable and stick to it.
  3. Get up at the same time every morning.
  4. Exercise daily.
  5. Work towards a goal (finding employment, learning a new skill,etc).

Better Yourself, Daily

Every day, do something that betters yourself as a person. Exercise, volunteer, learn a new skill, etc. Make each day meaningful in its own way. Don’t let your weeks and months blend together with monotony.

Seek Professional Help, If Needed

Your mental health is as important as your physical health. If you’re struggling with depression or any other form of mental illness, please seek professional help. There’s a ton of resources available to you.