Most of us take for granted the ability to walk from the couch to the kitchen and back again, many times during the day. But what if you have balance issues with aging, and walking a few steps makes you dizzy or at risk of falling? Or what if walking even short distances has you winded and tired?
For the elderly, mobility issues are common. In a study done by the National Institute of Health, finding showed that more than a quarter of adults over the age of 65 had difficulty walking a quarter of a mile, and 17 percent couldn’t do it at all. That’s just 600 steps.
If you or a loved one is having trouble getting around, it might be time to think about a wheelchair. Whether self-propelled or power, wheelchairs can help with sustaining an active, independent life.
Manual or Power Chair
Wheelchairs have come a long way in the past 10 years or so. Manual wheelchairs are light and easy to fold up, making them not only easier to maneuver but convenient for taking in the car when going out on errands. Power chairs have also seen advances from the models of years past.
Today’s chairs are more lightweight and powerful, and come in various style. You can choose a rugged style if you’re planning to use it outdoors, to ensure the chair can easily travel on bumpy sidewalks or grass fields to watch a grandchild’s soccer game. Or you can go the opposite route
and get a light-weight, foldable chair for ease of use in traveling.
Overall, the biggest consideration when deciding between manual or power is deciding what it will be mostly used for. Manual chairs are good for everyday use indoors, for people who have difficulty walking or are at risk of falling. A lightweight chair is great for someone who has the
ability to propel themselves forward. Power chairs are more useful for outdoor trips or travel.
Getting the Right Chair
When choosing a wheelchair, it is important to take measurements to ensure a proper fit. You will want to have your parent or loved one sit in a kitchen chair, and then measure their hip width, the length of their thigh, and the length from their knee to the ground. When shopping for a wheelchair make sure to look for:
– Good cushions and support
– Removable arm and leg rests
– Anti-tipping devices
If you’re in the market for a power wheelchair, you will want an occupational therapist to help make sure you get a chair with the perfect fit.
Making the decision to get a wheelchair can be a big one. Some people might look at it as admitting to weakness, when in fact it is a great tool to help improve quality of life. Use these tips to help find the right chair, and help your loved one enjoy a newfound independence.