It is a simple fact of life that everybody ages. While those who live to a ripe old age are lucky to enjoy a long life, aging can come with an array of mobility issues. It is for this reason that family or caregivers who are providing care for elderly parents are in the market for wheelchairs.
Mobility can be one of the hardest things for a senior to give up, especially if they have enjoyed living an active life. While accepting the help of a wheelchair can seem like an act of resignation to many, even those who initially protest the assistance will be impressed with how this simple piece of equipment can improve their lives.
That said, shopping for wheelchairs is not always an easy task. There are many different types of chairs on the market and it can be hard to choose the one that matches your loved one’s individual situation.
The Benefits of a Wheelchair for a Senior
There are a number of reasons why the senior in your life may consider looking at wheelchairs. Even if they are still quite mobile, a wheelchair can provide a minute or two of respite from walking and can help them travel for greater lengths of time.
Ultimately, a wheelchair is there to increase your loved one’s mobility. It can help them travel farther and experience more. It can even give them the ability to move faster around their home, a feature loved by many seniors who live alone and receive home care.
Wheelchairs can also be life-saving during an emergency. If your loved one falls or injures themselves, they can use the chair to help themselves up or to get to a phone. Having a wheelchair allows a person to be more independent, and can ensure that he/she stays independent for years to come.
How To Choose the Right Wheelchair for a Senior
It is important to include your senior in the decision when shopping for wheelchairs. Talk to them about their mobility issues. Ask what they would like their new wheelchair to accomplish and ask about any additional specifications they may have. Even if you are doing the majority of the research and shopping, you should show them the choices before making a purchase. The final decision should be theirs.
Different Types of Wheelchairs
There are two main types of wheelchairs:
Manual wheelchairs are powered exclusively by the rider. Manual chairs are relatively inexpensive and make great back-ups for those who have the upper body strength to propel themselves forward. If your loved one is still relatively mobile and has a decent amount of upper body strength, a manual chair might be the tool for the job.
Electric wheelchairs are powered using a battery. Although more expensive than their manual counterparts, they require far less mobility to use. If your loved one will use the chair to get from place to place throughout the day, if they will be shopping or travelling on their own, or if they lack the upper body strength to power a manual chair, an electric chair might be the best choice.
The manual wheelchair comes in a number of different styles. Standard, or everyday, chairs are the perfect choice for those who require only occasional wheelchair use. They are the simplest models, containing few additional comfort or speed features.
Lightweight, or sports, chairs are built for more independent movement and long-term use. This type of chair is perfect for those who use a wheelchair regularly, but still have enough upper body strength to move the chair themselves.
Specialty chairs can be built to accommodate a range of specific needs. Low chairs, extra large chairs and chairs that can be powdered with only one hand are all available to those who need them.
The electric wheelchair also comes in a number of different styles. The rear wheel drive chair is built for speed, but can have trouble when making tight turns.
The mid wheel drive chair has a great turning capability, but can be unsteady on uneven surfaces, or when starting and stopping.
The front wheel drive chair is generally the slowest type of chair, but has the best turning capability.
In the end, choosing wheelchairs is an individual decision that each senior and their family must make. Armed with the right knowledge, however, you should have no problem choosing the best chair for the job.