Ageing Well with SCI

Every one of us will experience the effects of ageing and being prepared for those changes can help to ensure the process is easier to manage.

Ageing can start earlier in people living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) and the length of time since your injury is a major contributing factor as to how you age. However by being realistic and preparing well, you can better manage the changes as they occur.

SIA provides services to support you throughout your life and we have developed resources specifically to help you to live well at whatever stage of life you are at.

As you age with your spinal cord injury you will experience the same ageing issues as the general population, but you are also susceptible to a variety of conditions specific to your SCI.  These may include:

  • Extra wear and tear on shoulder joints caused by years of propelling a manual wheelchair.
  • Complications with your bladder or bowel management.

Everyone is an individual and experiences differing degrees of change in their body. These changes can occur in some people at 15-20 years post injury, while others may only develop changes after many decades.

SIA has developed a series of fact sheets looking at the different issues you may face, as you grow older with a SCI.

You can download these from this site free of charge.  Just visit our resources section.

Planning ahead

Living with a SCI creates a number of challenges, and as we get older the gap between independence and dependence narrows. Thinking about what may lie ahead will put you in a better position to deal with issues as they arise.  Discussions with family members and healthcare professionals about your concerns for the future can be the first step towards accepting that adjustments will need to be made to certain aspects of your life. Putting plans in place to effect adjustments should help you to make the right decisions in a calm and timely manner. Decisions made in haste or an emergency situation might just cause further complications.

To guide you through this planning process, SIA has produced three separate plans that list the areas for you to consider. Some may seem obvious, others not, and some may even be uncomfortable issues that you have put off addressing.

How to use the plans

The areas for consideration have been grouped under relevant headings. There are suggested time frames shown in 2 columns, but these are merely for guidance and can be adjusted to suit your individual circumstances.

For example: evidence shows that physical wear and tear, especially of the upper limb joints, occurs on average 15-20 years post injury. You may wish to plan for the financing of a power wheelchair to help reduce pain and the conserving your upper limb joints.

You may think of other issues that you wish to include in your individual plan.

To make your twilight years easier to manage, planning ahead is worth some serious time and effort.  Visit our resources section to download the plan appropriate to your needs.

Our Advice Line Officer (0800 980 0501) has a wealth of knowledge to enable her to assist you in taking steps to prepare for your later years and to live well as you age with injury. Contact her for help and guidance or just to chat things through.

Post in the Ageing Forum on our Message Board and chat with other SCI people.

Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), is the expert voice and leading source of support and information to people with spinal cord injury (SCI).   Our services include: