Taking care of yourself mentally as well as physically is especially important if you have mobility impairments
Years of pushing a manual wheelchair can take a toll on your shoulders. Increased fatigue, weight gain, loss of muscle mass and medical complications can impact mobility.
The trick is to get into power mobility before you have trouble with your shoulders so you don’t develop trouble with transfers.
Here’s how to protect your mobility and your shoulders as you age:
• Keep your shoulders strong, and make sure your manual-wheelchair propulsion technique is safe and efficient.
• Transition to power mobility early, but keep exercising.
• Keep your weight down.
• Avoid overhead reaching.
• Avoid sleeping on your shoulder.
• Stretch front shoulder muscles and strengthen back shoulder muscles.
• Sit upright with your shoulders pulled back.
For more information about keeping your shoulders healthy, download a free copy of the consumer guide Preservation of Upper Limb Function Following Spinal Cord Injury: What You Should Know at pva.org (click on Get Support, publications, consumer guides).
Life Satisfaction While Aging
Certain conditions are associated more with age (diabetes, cardiovascular), others with time since injury (shoulder and skin problems). But life satisfaction does not necessarily correlate to age.
• Cultivate your passions (despite arthritis, Renoir continued painting from a wheelchair well into his eighties).
• Choose fun activities that keep you flexible and fit.
• Plan activities so you always have something to look forward to.
• Cultivate enriching long-term relationships.
• Look at your environment and don’t let it trap you if you have a change in function. It might require redesigning your current dwelling or moving to a house on a flatter surface.
Many of the risks able-bodied people face (obesity, hypertension, diabetes) are equally if not more important for individuals with SCI. People with SCI now die of the same things as the average American.