Women with disabilities now number about 27 million in the US alone, and their number is steadily increasing. More than 50% of women above the age of 65 today are living with a disability. In times like these it is essential for anyone to understand the various issues of health and day-to-day life that these women face.
Many women with disabilities derive enormous strength, resilience and creativity from their limitations. However, they also face many problems like low rates of employment, low wages, low educational levels, high rate of sexual and physical violence and limited access to health services.
Women tend to live longer than men; this is a contributing factor to there being more disabled women than men. Women are still considered to be passive and dependent. It is wrongly assumed that women adjust to disability more easily than men; this only increases the woman’s invisibility.
Because they are also less likely to be employed, their lack of a work history does not make them eligible for public and private employment-based health insurance.
If you are a woman with a disability it is important to keep in mind the importance of practicing good health habits. It is crucial that everyone, including health-care professionals, understand that having a disability is not the same as being sick.
A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control showed that 27.4% of adults with disabilities are obese. Around 30% of women with disabilities are obese as compared to 15% of women without disabilities. Eating right is one of the best ways for people with disabilities to avoid weight gain and ensure that they stay healthy.
One of the most important things for any woman with a disability is to take preventative measures so as to ensure that there are no complications. Try and stick to a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains and low on fat. Eating healthy and keeping a check on their weight is a tough task for a person with a disability.
A disability may render you dependent on someone else’s choice of food. In case someone is cooking for you, take advice from your doctor and work with them so as to figure out the best dietary plan for yourself. They may also need to take heavy medication that can result in weight gain and other physical issues. A balanced diet can help offset these problems and ensure that there is ample nutrition being provided to the body.
Research has shown that women with disabilities are more likely to encounter domestic violence than women without disabilities. Traditional strategies of escaping domestic abuse like going to a refuge, taking out an intervention order or going to live with family and friends is often of little use to a woman with a disability. If you are using a device like Go-Go Electric Mobility Scooter, always ensure that it is in pristine condition and well charged.
It is important to remember that there always needs to be an intervention for the violence to stop. Never hesitate to call your caregiver or the police in such cases. Always have a safety plan prepared.
You can keep a list of emergency contacts handy on your phone for dangerous situations. Have a place in mind where you can go and be prepared if you need a taxi, bus or other transport to reach there. Making sure that your valuables and documents are kept together will make it easier for you to grab them on the fly. Your credit cards, birth certificate, passport, medication, prescriptions etc. are but a few things that you need to have ready at all times.
Many people with disabilities shy away from exercise fearing they will not be able to integrate with their able bodied peers. Exercise helps in reducing the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart ailments.
It also aids in bettering musculoskeletal strength, flexibility and heart function. Regular exercise for women with disabilities is highly advisable as it helps them improve their functional ability to handle daily activities.
Difficult as it may sound, many people with disabilities take to playing sports. New social connections made through it can serve as a source of inspiration and support. For those on wheelchairs there are a variety of workouts that provide strength and stamina.
Keeping your body moving as much as possible in the wheelchair should be a priority in your daily fitness program. Wheelchair exercises will help you increase your strength, flexibility, mobility and strengthen your heart and lungs while also helping you control your weight.
Making sure that your lifestyle is clean and organized goes a long way in lowering stress levels and helps you be more confident. Find help with any household tasks you cannot do yourself. Make sure that your house has everything you need accessible to you easily. If you are living with your parents try and not let real dependence attract co-dependence. Know that if you cannot do some things, like cleaning up after yourself, it is not a character flaw.
Many people tend to be nervous around people with disabilities. They are often afraid of embarrassing themselves and may act patronizing without realizing it. Be firm but not impolite when refusing help. Be generous with their nervousness and educate them.
Keep your dignity when someone makes fun of you. A sarcastic comment or two can definitely help, especially in public situations with plenty of witnesses. If you can laugh at someone who is trying to put you down you automatically have a position of power. Always remember to play to the audience and not the heckler.
There was never a choice about being disabled, but you definitely have a choice about how you live with it every day. Give yourself a pat on the back for the successes and try not to beat yourself up for the failures. Know that you are a strong, independent woman who is needed and is important, regardless of the disability. There will always be challenges for those living with a disability. But the true measure of their strength is apparent only in their dealings with those aforementioned challenges that crop up every day. Go ahead, live your life to the fullest, and never let your disability become a hindrance to your happiness.