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Dealing with New Limitations

Page history last edited by Holly Swyers 6 years, 3 months ago

What are helpful ways to approach new physical or mental limitations caused by illness, injury, or just getting older?


The importance of physical activity

Physical activity is an important part of staying healthy. Even moderate physical activity, like taking a walk or doing yoga, can be a very important part of maintaining both your sense of well-being and your mental health. The challenge is figuring out how what kinds of physical activity you can do after an illness or injury. Age also has unexpected effects on what a body can do. In all cases, allow yourself time for self-care and rehab as needed.


Accepting changes in your abilities

The hardest step in addressing changes to your abilities will likely be learning to accept the changes, after which you'll be better able to manage them. This is especially true when the change is sudden. You will likely need a support network, and that network will be a mix of medical professionals, social workers and therapists, and your family and friends. Enlist them to help you tell yourself a new story of your life as you may find you need time to grieve plans you can no longer pursue.


There might be some activities you have to modify in order to participate at all, and some that you have to give up altogether. It is better to drop something and pick something new up instead of risking further deterioration of health. This is another place where a support network can help; it is easier to overcome barriers when there are others cheering you on. Don't be afraid to ask for help. 


Sometimes the best route to acceptance is to see a new limit as a creative challenge. While you might not be able to do things the way you used to do, there might be new technologies or new approaches that allow you to do new things. Actively engaging with your challenges can help you improve your outlook and open up solutions where none seemed possible.


Dealing with age

Bodies change with age, and sometimes our abilities change gradually rather than all at once. Such gradual changes also require acceptance, although often it takes an injury or a surprising failure to make us see how much our abilities have changed. Pay attention to how you respond to things over time and listen to friends and family when they observe changes. These are signs of things you should take up with your health care providers. Even if they are just normal parts of getting older, they may mean you have to slow down or approach things from new angles.


This page was developed from interviews with:

Karla Graves, Nicholas Huxley, Rhonda Wright, Rick Roman, Mary Smith, Olivia Jones, Erika O'Brian, Isaac Ellison, Tami Gilbert


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