By Allen McKinley
I hope everyone had a great time with family and friends over the holidays. It is important to take time out to relax and just be around those who love us. I call it the happy factor, and it should never be overlooked. Having a positive attitude makes the world better. The little things that make our lives more difficult when dealing with a disability become less important and overwhelming when we have smiles on our faces.
An important part of our lives is the health of our skin. When a person is sitting in a chair for all or most of the day, skin health is a 24/7 concern, and it should be. Pressure sores are dangerous and take little time to show but sometimes months to heal — often involving hospital stays and time away from life/work. And they are just not fun. So here is my advice: Don’t get one.
One way to help ensure you stay healthy is showering every single day. But showering is difficult for me! There are things you can do to make it easier, however, and it is worth the effort. It gives you or your caregiver a great opportunity to check your skin for cuts, red spots or anything else that can cause trouble for you. Finding these things early and not letting them fester is the difference between a quick fix or a long-term issue that many times lead to other problems.
There also is the intangible effect of letting water run over your head, washing away the difficulties of our daily lives. Everyone loves a good shower to recharge, and individuals with a disability NEED that feeling of a clean and new start daily. Again, this is the happy factor. After a shower life just seems that much more doable. Not having a shower for days, on the other hand, is depressing and lowers self-confidence, which is something we don’t want.
So showering daily is a must, but what if it is difficult? First, get high-quality shower equipment that will last a long time. It also should be easy to use for your caregiver so they are less likely to allow you to skip days. Again, making things as easy as possible leads to a better attitude, fewer health problems and just a better life. For those of you who require a shower chair, I recommend a RAZ shower chair. They last forever, have every seat option and accessory offering for your specific requirements and are extremely easy for a caregiver to use. (Find more at www.razdesigninc.com.)
The stainless steel construction will not wear out, and it will hold up for a lifetime. These chairs are easy to clean and will fit directly over a toilet, allowing a user to go directly to the shower after handling business. People get hurt during transfers, so not transferring onto a toilet takes away a daily threat of injury. Remember: A fall can lead to expensive hospital stays or time off work. Buying great equipment that limit the risk factors in your daily life is among the best ways to prevent costly downtime.
You also want something that is stable. When in the shower you are going to be wet, soapy and slippery. With the recline and tilt options on the RAZ chairs, you can safely shower and prevent sliding to the floor accidentally. In my opinion, showering is one of the most important things a person with a disability can do on a daily basis. I guarantee you will see an improvement in your own attitude and the attitude of your loved ones.
Allen McKinley is an MSL associate who covers North Carolina and South Carolina.