Living a self-determined life with aids and assistance
Various assistive devices and a team of assistants help Saskia Melches to manage her active everyday life. Whether in or out of her home, she wants to lead as self-determined a life as possible. How society and the assistive technology industry could support her, what the jungle of Peru is all about and how she rolls otherwise, she tells us on REHACARE.com.
Name: Saskia Melches Age: 40 City: Ostfildern, Germany Occupation: Internal sales, brand ambassador, volunteer work for the association Mobil mit Behinderung e.V. and Neuromuscular Disease Foundation – but also retiree and employer for my personal assistants Disability: GNE-myopathy (very rare muscle disease)
Saskia Melches: Every day has something good. There are so many little things that are beautiful and for which you can be grateful – you just have to open your eyes to it.
Which auxiliary means or daily living aids are indispensable for you?
Saskia Melches: My patient lift, because without it I would not be able to get out of bed on my own. And of course my power wheelchair. I am happy and grateful for the 4 wheels under my butt. They allow me to move independently in and out of the apartment. And of course my assistants, because I am now completely dependent on help. For example, I can't turn on my own at night, I can't wash myself, I can't eat and drink on my own, etc.
What would you like to see from society and your fellow people in dealing with people with disabilities?
Saskia Melches: I wish that people would move closer together again and that not everyone only looks out for themselves. This applies to ALL, because a person with a disability is also a HUMAN. Everybody should be accepted as they are!
Which assistive device would urgently need to be invented and/or improved?
Saskia Melches: Technical aids that can be controlled by thought, e.g. text input on a PC or a robotic arm. Above all, the assumption of costs for aids should be improved, because often you have to fight for the aids you need.
Saskia Melches has already overcome many fears and difficulties in life. She has found that self-acceptance and a positive attitude have helped her best to deal with challenges.
What has been your biggest challenge so far that you have mastered – and what has helped you?
Saskia Melches: There have been many big challenges in my life. One of the two biggest was to accept the progressive muscle disease with all its facets and to learn to live with it, which I now manage very well. It has helped me to accept myself as I am and to be positive. That was very difficult at the beginning. But today I can say that everything bad and difficult always brings something good with it.
The other biggest challenge for me was a trip with a wheelchair in the middle of the jungle in Peru. It helped me a lot to have people by my side who believed in me and this adventure trip and on whom I could rely. I was also aware that I had to overcome many limitations and fears.
What can the assistive technology industry learn from the Corona pandemic to make life easier and/or better for people with disabilities in the future? Saskia Melches: Contact with people with disabilities and exchange is important. Much is possible by telephone or online. This should continue to be used in the future.
If nothing was impossible: Who would you like to meet one day and why?
Saskia Melches: I would like to meet my sister again, who left this world much too early. There are still so many things I would like to do together with her and I would talk with her.