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Fighting Ableism in Both Visible and Invisible Disabilities in Seniors

Invisible Disabilities in Seniors
Invisible disabilities in seniors are common, but whether disabilities are visible or not, it’s important to understand them to overcome ableism.

What’s your very first thought when you see an individual in a wheelchair? Do you view that person as less-than, someone in need of being fixed? Do you presume they need special treatment, as though a physical disability affects intelligence as well? How does your thinking change to see someone standing upright, without the need for a wheelchair; would you think they were better-abled than the wheelchair-bound older adult?

These are challenging questions that require honest answers if we’re to understand and respond accordingly to both visible and invisible disabilities in seniors and help overcome ableism.

What Is Ableism?

Ableism is described as “the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior.” It contributes to harmful stereotypes and misconceptions.

The Two Sides of the Disability Coin

Individuals with visible disabilities encounter ableism in a variety of ways: exclusion from venues that are inaccessible, being spoken down to or asked intrusive questions, needing 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 lots of disabilities that are not as easily visible (for example, hearing impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, or a heart condition), accounting for as many as 80% of the disabled population. These people may have their concerns minimized and need to fight harder to get any accommodations needed.

No matter whether a disability is hidden or apparent, there are steps we can all take to promote equality and inclusion:

  • Treat everyone the way 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 individual or impose your help. Offer assistance in an open-ended manner if it seems needed, giving them the opportunity to let you know if they would like your help or not.
  • Never speak over or around the person, 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 individual is an adult, and should always be spoken to as such.

At Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, we’re dedicated to treating each person we serve with respect and dignity. We can help someone you love with a complete range of individualized in-home care services such as:

  • Transportation and accompaniment
  • Planning and preparing healthy and balanced meals and providing assistance with eating when needed
  • Running errands such as grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions
  • Help with walking and transfers
  • Companionship to brighten each day through conversations, activities, games, arts and crafts, physical fitness, and much 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 much more

Contact us at (866) 229-2505 to find out more and to request a free in-home consultation.

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