How to Prepare & Care for Your Paraplegic Patient
Paraplegic injuries can be life changing for patients as well as their loved ones. But with proper care and a focus on what patients can do, as opposed to what they can’t, life in a wheelchair can still be rich and fulfilling. With this in mind, it’s important to understand the distinctive needs of a paraplegic in order to provide the level of care necessary for your loved one to live as confidently and independently as possible.
Preparing for Home Care
Whether you plan to care for a loved one who is paraplegic or hire a live-in caregiver to help, there are several things you can do to prepare for a smooth transition.
Choose a high-quality, well-functioning wheelchair that is fitted to the patient. It’s important that the patient try out several before selecting one. The right wheelchair, whether standard or electric, will depend on factors including age, body type, and activity level. It’s also important to consider how much use the wheelchair will get outdoors, as some models are better equipped for extended outside use.
Aside from rearranging furniture and removing barriers to allow for wheelchair access, you’ll also need to install ramps over or near stairs. In the bathroom, mount grip bars next to the toilet and in the bathtub, and purchase a sturdy shower chair. Make sure rugs and mats are non-slip, and move necessary items to lower cabinets and drawers. A patient lift can ease transfers in and out of the wheelchair.
Paraplegic Home Care
The level of home care needed will depend on the patient’s age and overall health, but there are certain procedures that are universal to paraplegic patients.
Pressure sores, otherwise known as bedsores, are much easier to prevent than treat, so a paraplegic care should include vigilance about repositioning the patient throughout the day. For wheelchair users, the back and back of the legs are the most vulnerable areas, so it’s crucial to reposition the patient often.
Urinary tract infections can be a serious medical issue for paraplegic patients, so the catheter should be inspected on a regular basis and kept clean to avoid the risk of infection. Many doctors recommend that caregivers teach patients to inspect catheters on their own, whenever possible.
A paraplegic patient may need help with getting dressed, cleaning, cooking, running errands, and dispensing medication. The caregiver may also need to drive the patient to follow-up care appointments and other facilities for rehabilitation, counseling, and physical or occupational therapy.
Quality of Life Care
Beyond caring for medical needs and performing day-to-day tasks for a paraplegic patient, families and caregivers can help encourage and support personal interests and relationships.
Activities and Hobbies
Trips to the library, the movies, museum openings or art shows can help keep the patient’s mind active and spirit fulfilled. Providing materials to engage in hobbies such as reading, painting, writing, knitting, whittling, or whatever seems appealing can also go a long way toward enhancing the patient’s quality of life.
Book clubs, garden clubs, and even online card games played with people around the world can foster a sense of community that might be missing, especially if the disability is a new one. It’s especially important to ensure that personal relationships with friends and family are maintained while the patient is adjusting to a new way of life.
If you’re looking for live-in care for a paraplegic patient, we’re here for you.
If you or a loved is in need of in-home paraplegic care, live-in or otherwise, Avalon Home Care in Carlsbad can help. Our compassionate caregivers can aid in the transition to a new living situation after an injury as well as perform all of the assistive duties listed above.
For more information about selecting the proper care for your loved one, give us a call to schedule a free consultation today.