Providing mental and emotional support for a disabled family member is no easy task. After all, depending on the nature of the disability, family members might feel out of their comfort zone, or struggle to find the right words to say to a loved one when he or she is having a bad day.
If a loved one in your family is disabled, it’s important to know what to do when he or she needs your love and support. Consider using the following advice when you want to show your loved one that you’ll always be there:
• Don’t baby your family member if he or she is having a bad day. This can often come from a place of good intentions; however, this might make a disabled person feel worse, particularly if he or she is feeling bad about being physically or mentally handicapped. Babying them will only make them feel worse about themselves.
• Engage in fun activities that the two of you can enjoy together. Develop a ritual of watching your favorite TV show together, or schedule regular phone calls to talk about celebrity gossip. Doing regular – and fun! – activities can lift someone’s spirits when he or she needs some extra love.
• Don’t be afraid to talk about the disability. Your family member doesn’t want to be treated with kid gloves – in fact, making an effort to avoid talking about the disability altogether might make him or her feel invisible. Talk about it in a way that’s respectful without it becoming the prime focus of all your interactions.
• Your family member is more than a disability – and he or she needs to be treated as such. Talk about everyday normal things, make fun of your creepy uncle together, or just play video games together while your family’s in the kitchen cooking up a Thanksgiving turkey.
It’s our hope that these hints have demonstrated that you should treat your loved one for who they are: a person who has a special place in your heart, regardless of his or her disability.