Ageing well

As you get older

Ageing happens to us all. If you have a spinal injury, it’s good to be aware of the ageing process and how it might affect you, so you can be as independent as possible.

As you get older, you’ll experience the same issues as the general population. But you’re also susceptible to conditions that can occur with a spinal cord injury.

With the right support, information and equipment, you can still live a long, fulfilling life.


One in six (or 64%) of people with spinal injuries rate their quality of life as “good” up to the latter stage of their lives.

Care planning

You may need extra support with day-to-day activities as you get older. This includes help with getting dressed and transferring in and out of your wheelchair. Thinking about what may lie ahead will put you in a better position to deal with issues as they come up. Our support workers can provide advice on planning your care.

Bowel management

Your metabolism can slow down with age. This can make managing bowel movements challenging, which can be tough on your self-esteem. It’s important to continue to think about exercise and good nutrition to manage this.

Bad posture comes over a prolonged time and sneaks up on us. I now have a recliner chair that is comfortable and supportive

Richard, a T4 paraplegic

Good posture

Sitting in a wheelchair for a number of years can shorten the muscles in your hips and legs. Being in the correct position will stop you from getting pain and developing pressure ulcers.

This includes making sure your ankles, sides of your knees and hip bones aren’t touching the wheelchair. And also keeping your knees level and pointing forward.

Speak to an occupational therapist or physiotherapist for advice on posture. They’ll look at your sitting position and help choose suitable equipment.

Preventing shoulder injuries

You may experience extra wear and tear on your shoulder joints from years of moving a manual wheelchair. To reduce this strain, position your shoulders in line with your wheels and don’t carry lots of bags on your wheelchair. It’s also important to maintain a healthy weight .

Watch this film showing exercises to prevent shoulder problems:

Find more exercises here

More on ageing and spinal injury

Read about common myths connected with ageing with a spinal injury on the Back Up website.

Want to find out more?

We know that getting older with a spinal cord injury can feel daunting. If you’d like to speak to someone about issues connected with ageing, book a call with a support worker, or speak to one of our nurses .