Seniors Mobility Aids

How Can I Be Confident in a Wheelchair? [5 Tips That’ll Help]

Written by Haley Burress
Last Updated :
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How can I be confident in a wheelchair? This is probably the most daunting question most mobility disabled people ask themselves.

I remember when I had an accident and had to use a wheelchair to move around. I thought my entire world shattered, but I learned some confidence tips for a better quality of life. Read and find them out!

How Can I Be Confident in a Wheelchair?

Some self-esteem activities for people with disabilities can help you become a confident wheelchair user.

Because, let’s face it, using a manual wheelchair is not a simple task, and sometimes that’ll make you sad. Knowing you can do nothing to get out of your situation sinks someone — I experienced that.

But no one is lost. Try these five tips to help your confidence scale rise.

1. Accept Your Situation

Accepting yourself is the best approach to living a positive life with a disability. What you have to note is that you are not different from other people.

couple roaming around using manual wheelchairs

Be open-minded about going out and meeting with other wheelchair users. Connect with them through social media and attend conferences organized by people with disabilities.

You may feel a sense of belonging by meeting and developing relationships with people with the same experience.

These are the best people to encourage you if you recently had an unexpected disability, leaving you on wheels.

READ MORE: Guidelines for Pushing Wheelchairs

2. Stay Well Groomed

This may seem superficial, but being in a full-time sitting position does not warrant putting off the urge to look and smell good.

man propelling a wheelchair on the stairs

As you keep your hygiene checked, ensure your wheels look clean too. You can also customize your wheelchair’s upholstery and wheels and attract some attention, in a good way.

This will help boost your self-esteem, especially in public places.

3. Map Out Your Outings

Your life has changed and how your daily life was before must change. If you were used to using stairs, now you must use the ramp and maneuvering the curbside now measures wheelchair confidence. (1)

So check if the area you are going to has a ramp, which also applies to the bus. Another option is to have someone with you, a friend or partner, to help when needed.

wheelchair up a ramp

CHECK: How to Make a Wheelchair More Comfortable

4. Get a Suitable Wheelchair

A wide variety of wheelchairs is available, and what may work for someone may not work for you. Typically, your physiotherapist will help you choose the correct wheelchair to fit your needs. (2)

Note that comfort is key to maintaining self-confidence and having the wrong wheelchair works against this goal.

When having a wheelchair fitting, try different models of wheelchairs or ask for adjustments to get that ideal sitting comfort.

Watch this video from Wheelsnoheels – Gem Hubbard on how to select the best wheelchair.

5. Explore New Things

Being tied to a wheelchair should not make you think you cannot do anything for yourself. So if you love traveling, continue the habit, and if you have a passion for exercising, sign up with a local gym.

People are friendly, and even though you might get awkward stares, there will be someone to offer help.

Here is a video from Wheels2Walking detailing how being in a wheelchair should not limit living positive lives.

Can a Power Wheelchair Boost Confidence?

One barrier to wheelchair use I experienced is the lack of flexibility. I would get exhausted when wheeling the manual wheelchair, but that changed when I got an electric wheelchair.

With a powered wheelchair, you can achieve more, like wheeling for longer distances and tackling slopes quickly. Some eclectic chairs even have a mechanism to elevate the seat.

This sitting position adjustment will help you talk to people without looking up to maintain eye contact. The elevation makes it easier to reach the elevator buttons, reach out to the kitchen cabinets, and cook your meals.

This way, you won’t have to depend on others to get things around the house and in public places. And will have more confidence being able to do things on your own.

CHECK: Best Outdoor Electric Wheelchair

Wheelchair Self-Confidence FAQs

1. How to be happy in a wheelchair?

Being happy in a wheelchair means accepting who and how you are. Try to have positive thoughts and show confidence so people can freely associate with you.

2. Will I have to sit in my wheelchair all day?

That entirely depends on your condition or disability. A misconception people have is that a person sitting in a wheelchair cannot walk, but some do.

3. Does sitting in a wheelchair warrant back pain?

No, sitting in a wheelchair does not have to be a painful experience. If experiencing back pain, adjust it and if that does not help, contact your wheelchair service for a replacement.

4. What can you do for fun while in a wheelchair?

You can travel, go to the gym, go shopping, connect with friends, and even drive customized vehicles to have fun in a wheelchair.

Final Thoughts

Being confident while sitting in a wheelchair is one of the most important things to do as a disabled person. But for many people living with disabilities, staying confident can be challenging.

Regain your self-esteem with the tips above and you won’t need to ask “how can I be confident in a wheelchair” again. Remember, it all starts with you, and the people around you will adapt.

man in a wheelchair in his garden full of flowers


  • 1. Wheelchair Skills Training – Hills & Ramps [Internet]. Physiopedia. 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 30]. Available from: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Wheelchair_Skills_Training_-_Hills_%26_Ramps#:~:text=The%20wheelchair%20user%20should%20lean
  • 2. Not Sure of How to Choose The Right Wheelchair? Here Are 5 Important Features to Look For [Internet]. MedPlus. 2019 [cited 2022 Aug 30]. Available from: https://www.medplushealth.ca/blog/not-sure-of-how-to-choose-the-right-wheelchair-here-are-5-important-features-to-look-for/

About Author

Haley Burress
Haley has been working with seniors and their caregivers for more than 17 years. She has held local and national leadership roles in a variety of senior services and senior care agencies. Today, she is a sought after writer specializing in topics for older adults, their family members, and professional caregivers. When she isn't at her computer sipping coffee, you can find her hiking with her husband, son, and dog or trying a new cookie recipe in the kitchen. Follow her on LINKEDIN. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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