Fighting Ableism When Dealing With Disabilities in Seniors
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you see someone in a wheelchair? Do you assume that the person is less-than or in need of being fixed? Do you presume they need special treatment, as though a physical disability impacts intellect as well? How does your thinking shift to see someone standing upright, without the need for a wheelchair; would you think they were better-abled than the wheelchair-bound senior?
These are difficult questions that require honest answers if we are to understand fighting ableism and to respectfully interact with those who are differently abled.
What Exactly Is Ableism?
Ableism is identified as “the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior.” It contributes to harmful misconceptions and stereotypes, which makes fighting ableism vital for seniors with disabilities.
The Two Sides to the Disability Coin
People who have visible disabilities experience ableism in a variety of forms: being spoken down to or asked intrusive questions, exclusion from places that are inaccessible, being forced to wait to use an accessible restroom stall while in use by an individual who could be using a standard stall, etc. On the other hand, there are many disabilities which are not as easily noticeable (such as hearing impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, or a heart condition), accounting for up to 80% of the disabled population. These individuals may have their concerns minimized and need to fight harder to receive any accommodations needed.
No matter whether a disability is hidden or apparent, there are steps we can all take in fighting ableism and promoting equality and inclusion:
- Never speak over or around the individual, addressing a caregiver first. Speak directly to the individual, and if help with conversing is necessary, the caregiver can then step in. Don’t forget that the person is an adult, and should always be spoken to as such.
- Treat everyone in the manner in which you would want to be treated. Look them in the eye. Say hello. Engage them in a conversation if they welcome the social interaction.
- Avoid trying to think for the person or impose your help. Offer assistance in an open-ended manner if it seems warranted, giving them the option to let you know if they would like your help or not.
At Responsive Home Care, we are dedicated to treating each individual we serve with respect and dignity. We can help someone you love with a complete selection of individualized in-home care services which can include:
- Help with walking and transfers
- Planning and preparing healthy meals and providing assistance with feeding when needed
- Accompaniment to appointments
- Companionship to brighten each day through conversations, activities, games, arts and crafts, exercise, and more
- Discreet personal care support, for safe baths/showers, restroom use, getting dressed, etc.
- Specialized care for chronic health needs, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
- And so much more
If you need help from Responsive Home Care, the top provider of home care services, including dementia care in Fort Lauderdale and the nearby areas, contact us online or at (954) 486-6440 to find out more and to request a free in-home consultation.