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Working for change

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HealthWiki > A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities > Chapter 5: Taking care of your body > Working for change

While many people believe it is important to take care of disabled women, in reality many women with disabilities do not get enough of the care and information they need to lead healthy and active lives.

What families and caregivers can do

Care from our families and helpers makes our lives easier in many ways. They can also help us to be more independent by encouraging us to do as much as we can to take care of our own bodies. Even so, as women with disabilities, we may need extra help to:

a blind woman speaking.
We trust you to help us.
  • get enough good healthy food and clean water.
  • exercise and stretch to keep our bodies strong and flexible.
  • bathe, and clean our teeth.
  • remove stool or urine and change the cloths or pads used to absorb monthly bleeding.
  • check, clean and treat pressure sores.
  • keep some medicines and supplies at home or nearby, especially if medical care is far away. Try to include pain relievers, an antibiotic for urine or skin infections, clean gauze, and any medicines used regularly to treat her disability.

Most of us who are blind or deaf can take care of our own physical needs. But we may still need help getting information to keep ourselves healthy. For example, a blind person may need you to read health education information out loud to her—even if the information is about things you usually would not speak about. And a deaf person may need you to tell her about important health messages you hear on the radio or from a health worker.

What communities can do

Communities can do a lot to improve the conditions that will allow us to take care of our bodies so we can remain healthy. Many women with disabilities are poor and some live isolated lives. Like everyone else, we need access to care, nutritious food, clean water and sanitation, and a safe place to live. We also need the companionship and respect of our neighbors. Talk to us and to our families about things the community can do to help us look after our health.

  • Some of us may need daily care from our families and helpers. Community leaders and neighborhood groups can arrange other help so our needs can be met and our family and regular helpers get a break.
  • Many older women with disabilities are very poor, live alone, or have a hard time finding someone to help us. By arranging for helpers or companions—or giving practical support in other ways—the community can greatly improve our lives.
  • Help us farm our fields or go to market so we can have enough good food.
  • Work to make sure that women with disabilities have access to clean water.
  • Organize your community to build or remodel latrines and toilets so they can be safely used by people with disabilities.

For more information on how communities and families can stay healthy, see Where Women Have No Doctor, Chapter 10, and the booklets Sanitation and Cleanliness and Water for Life.

a woman who uses a hearing aid speaking.
We need regular health checkups by health workers who are committed to our care.