Having a family member who needs a wheelchair can be an incredibly challenging experience. Not only must you adjust to the physical and emotional changes that come with caring for someone in a wheelchair, but there are also practical considerations that need to be taken into account.
To ensure your loved one is safe and comfortable, it’s essential to understand the basics of wheelchairs. Look at the six essential things you should know if your family member needs a wheelchair.
What You Need to Know When a Family Member Needs a Wheelchair
Types of Wheelchairs
It’s essential to understand the different wheelchairs available, as this will determine the best chair for your family member. Manual wheelchairs require the user to use their arms and hands to propel themselves. In contrast, electric wheelchairs are powered by a motor, allowing the user more freedom of movement and mobility. Finally, there are also specialized wheelchairs designed for specific tasks, such as sports wheelchairs or shower chairs.
However, choosing the right wheelchair for your family member is not just about finding the most convenient and comfortable option; you must also consider any medical conditions or accessibility needs they may have.
Wheelchair Size and Measurements
Once you’ve identified the type of wheelchair best suited to your family member, it’s essential to ensure the chair is sized correctly for them. The best way to do this is by taking their measurements, including their height and weight. You should also measure the user’s legs, hips, and arms to find a wheelchair with a seat depth and width that fits correctly.
The wheelchair must be correctly fitted for your family member so that they are well-supported and comfortable when sitting in it.
The safety of the user should always be a top priority when it comes to choosing a wheelchair. Make sure there are properly padded armrests, and leg rests that can support the user’s weight.
Also, consider installing arm supports and footplates for extra security. Finally, ensure seat belts keep the user securely in their chair and that the wheelchair is equipped with brakes for added safety.
On the other hand, you should also consider wheelchair accessories that can help make your family member more comfortable. For example, cushions can provide extra padding and support while pressure relief pads can help reduce the risk of skin sores or other issues.
Maintenance and Repairs
Like any other equipment, wheelchairs require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition. Make sure to check the tires, brakes, and other components regularly. It would be best if you also cleaned the wheelchair regularly to prevent dirt and debris from causing any issues.
If something does go wrong with the wheelchair or it needs repairs or adjustments, you can either take it to a specialist repair shop or contact the manufacturer directly for help.
Additionally, it would be best if you had a backup plan in place in case something goes wrong with the wheelchair. This could include having another manual or electric wheelchair on hand for emergencies.
Costs and Funding
The cost of wheelchairs can vary greatly, depending on the type and features included. Manual wheelchairs tend to be more affordable than electric wheelchairs, but they may require more effort from the user.
You should also consider any insurance options that may be available to cover some or all of the costs. Most health insurance plans will cover at least part of the cost of a wheelchair, but you should check with your provider for details.
You may also be able to get financial assistance from government programs or charitable organizations, such as the United Way or your local social services agency
In some cases, it may be possible to get funding or financial assistance for a wheelchair. Local governments, charities, and insurance companies may all be able to assist with the cost of a wheelchair.
The Everyday Life
Finally, wheelchairs will need to fit into their everyday life. Think about how the wheelchair will be used and if any obstacles need to be overcome. For example, some wheelchairs may not fit in a car or through doorways, so you’ll need to look for models to address these issues.
On the other hand, you should also consider the user’s lifestyle and any activities they may wish to participate in. For example, if they plan on traveling or going outdoors, ensure the wheelchair is suitable for these activities.
A suitable wheelchair for your family member is an important asset that should not be taken lightly, as it should cover all aspects of safety, comfort, and everyday life. Additionally, costs can vary significantly, so exploring all available funding options is essential.
With careful consideration of these factors and help from professionals or specialists in the field if needed, you’ll be able to find the perfect wheelchair for your loved one that suits their needs and lifestyle perfectly.