In our last blog post, we talked about Cerebral Palsy, a group of disorders that affect the brain and nervous system. Though the brain injuries or abnormalities most often develop within a child’s first few years of life, most children with cerebral palsy now go on to live full and long lives. This progress is recent, however, and it means that there isn’t much information out there for adults with cerebral palsy.
If you or someone you love is an older adult living with cerebral palsy, it’s likely that the most important topic to you is how to deal with the condition on a day-to-day basis. What can you do to manage cerebral palsy, especially if you’re an older adult dealing with the added challenges that occur with the aging process?
Here are our top tips to help you manage cerebral palsy:
- Build a team you can rely on. Anyone living with cerebral palsy needs a team that can work together to watch over their health long-term. This team may include an orthopedist to treat muscles and bone disorders, an occupational therapist to help develop therapies that help with everyday activities, a mental health provider, and a social worker to help with accessing services.
- Take care of your body. Follow your healthcare team’s advice about diet and exercise. Staying healthy can help stave off any more illnesses related to old age.
- Keep your bones strong. One out of every three people over age 65 falls every year in the U.S. Falls are an even bigger danger if you’re dealing with a disability. Reduce the risk of bone breaks from falls by getting sufficient Vitamin D, and strength training with light weights, if possible.
- Take advantage of devices. From velcro shoes to communications devices that you can control with your eye movement, today there are all kind of assistive gadgets out there that can make your day-to-day tasks invaluably easier. For a list of assistive technology resources by state, click here.
- Independent living. Many people with cerebral palsy find that the condition’s effects are lessened when they remain independent and active in their communities. If completely independent living isn’t an option, consider in home care. A caregiver can help with essential tasks like driving, dressing, and cooking, while helping you stay comfortably in your own home.
- Join a support group. Many people are reluctant to join support groups. But getting support isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a tool that can help you live a balanced and healthy life.
Are you an older adult living with cerebral palsy, or are you a caregiver for someone who is? What special challenges have you faced while aging with cerebral palsy? What advice can you share from your experiences?