Aging with Spinal Cord Injury

I am a long-term survivor of spinal cord injury. For 39 years, I have watched the world from a seated position. For my adult life in a wheelchair, I have been sharing my journey in hopes of helping others understand what it means to spend a lifetime with a spinal cord injury. I have watched medical treatments, equipment, and society barriers change and evolve in my post injury life.

At age 42, I have come to recognize that aging with this injury is a challenge. As I seek ways to add longevity to my days, I personally have to maintain my health in several key areas. Here are my best tips in thriving and finding longevity after spinal cord injury.

1) Stay active! I attempt everyday to exercise. Now, I am not the best at keeping this daily ‘promise’, however, I do perform daily household chores that I like to count as exercise. Like two loads of laundry, load the dishes, and sweep the floor. It has been my personal experience that just getting up and being productive helps me maintain a healthy mindset.

2) Drink plenty of water. I have a water bottle marked with different times of the day. I set out early in the morning to try to drink as much water as possible. Somedays I do well, others I don’t. However, my water bottle makes it a bit easier to stick to my goal.

 

3) Stay lean. Packing on extra pounds may lead to poor health, but can also make transferring a lot more difficult. I maintain my weight by eating small amounts throughout the day. I also substitute my protein source with nuts and dairy, limiting my meat consumption.

4) Use good body mechanics. Shoulders and elbows are used so much in transferring and propelling a manual wheelchair.I do my best to be mindful of my posture, as well as, not over using my elbows and shoulders. If you are involved in sports, think about the use (and the over use of your joints). Do your best to protect them, strengthen your muscles, and provide your body plenty of rest when you have
exerted yourself.

5) Stay Connected and Stay Positive. Family, friends, support groups, and my church family have played a major role in the longevity (and happiness) in my life. There are so many online, interactive groups that can provide a source of people that are living a life of abundance with spinal cord injury. In fact, that's exactly why I choose to contribute here. Bard Care provides a wonderful resource and plethora of stories that will help you in your journey. Stay connected today and 'Join' our Community!

Leslie

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