When someone recognizes their disability and is open about it as Capt. William Swanson the most recent Medal of Honor winner, it is easy to know that assistance will be appreciated. When we see someone struggling to do what had been in easy task, deciding to intervene is harder. Often we see a friend or family member misinterpreting what is said because they are hard of hearing. The question then becomes should I correct them or answer for them?
We all struggle to do some things. At times the struggle gets us down. In frustration we may give up. This morning I was trying to pay some bills. I first went online to use my bank’s electronic system. After several tries in which I could not find the company I was going to pay in the bank’s list, I shouted a few angry words. I pulled out the checkbook. There were no more checks. I pulled out the credit card and filled in the information on the bill. One down and one to go! I was on a roll. Then I found the next bill did not have the option to pay by credit card. I went back online and eventually succeeded. With struggles like this I realize why it had taken me so long to pay these bills.
Paying bills is one of many chores that people who become disabled struggle with. I recall many instances where people either made poor decisions or failed to pay bills. It was the consequence that brought the problem to the family’s attention. Lights would get turned off, and the person would turn to family or friends to get them turned back on. Someone was alerted to a problem. They were willing to assist. They set up an alternative method for getting the bills paid.
In the absence of a crisis when should you intervene in someone else’s affairs?
This month I’m looking at the issue of intervening in someone else’s affairs because they are disabled. In the issue of driving we worry about safety. Safety is also an issue in cooking and doing some personal chores like bathing. There is embarrassment when someone misreads or mishears something. Often they or the other party will realize there’s miscommunication and try another way. People don’t like being told they can’t do things. We saw this in the responses to one of my posts on Facebook. When I asked what you do when others say you can’t, several people said they just try harder. There is a degree of anger and frustration when we do try harder. This came out when I was trying to pay bills today. Do you risk becoming the focus of that anger by suggesting you step in to help the disabled person?
In my next blog I will explore some ways we can step in. In the meantime if you have some additional thoughts on how we might decide when to step in please share them. I am always open to new ideas and perspectives. If you know others who would like to ponder this question please get them involved.
As All Ways, Seek Joy,
Coach Dr. Dave
Author of the forthcoming book, “recipes for lemonade (thriving through disability): Dr. Dave’s personal recipe “