When it comes to choosing a wheelchair for seniors, there are many factors to consider. The type of wheelchair that is best for your loved one will depend on their individual needs and lifestyle. Read how to choose the right vehicle for your senior receiving in-home care.
The Types of Wheelchairs for Seniors
A wheelchair is a mobility aid that can help your loved one with physical limitations get around. When it comes to wheelchair types, there are many options available with their own pros and cons.
1. Manual Wheelchair
This is an inexpensive option that allows independence and freedom. But it requires strength to propel by hand. The average price of a manual wheelchair is $300-$500. The benefit of using a wheelchair like this is that your loved ones can go where they want. And it gives them a sense of freedom and independence. In addition, it’s easy to store and transport.
The downside to using a manual wheelchair is physical strain on the user. It also takes up more space than other wheelchair types.
2. Electric Wheelchair
This wheelchair type uses battery power to move around. So your loved one doesn’t have to use any strength to get around. The average price for an electric wheelchair starts at $700. But it can go up to $5000 or more, depending on features. Electric wheelchairs are great for seniors with limited mobility. Because it eliminates the need for strenuous effort, they’re easy to operate and come in various sizes and styles.
Electric wheelchairs require much less effort to use because they are battery-powered. But they aren’t as compact as manual wheelchairs, making them less portable. However, they can be disassembled and stored in the trunk of a car.
The power wheelchair has directional controls. This makes it easy to maneuver in tight spaces indoors or on crowded sidewalks outdoors. It is a good option for seniors who have limited upper body strength, or who may need a wheelchair all day long.
3. Scooter Wheelchair (Mobility Scooters)
Mobility scooters give elderly parents another mobility freedom option. It falls between a wheelchair and a motorized vehicle like an automobile or golf cart. These wheelchairs provide convenience for those with no problem standing up from their seat, but want some assistance getting around town safely at a faster pace than they could on a wheelchair.
Mobility scooters are not as easy to transport as wheelchairs. But many models fold up for storage in a car or home. Most importantly, these types of chairs provide seniors with the ability to stay active and social. As a result, riders can continue to do the things they love outside their home. The average price for a mobility scooter is $3000.
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best wheelchair for a senior. First, consider the person’s weight and height, and how often they will use it. There are also different types of wheelchairs according to their weight:
- Standard wheelchairs are perfect for short trips around town or light use in the home.
- Transport wheelchairs fold up easily and can be carried like a suitcase. They’re great for taking on planes or trains.
- Lightweight wheelchairs are perfect if the senior needs a wheelchair for occasional use.
- Heavy-duty wheelchairs are perfect for seniors who need a wheelchair for daily use.
When choosing between a wheelchair or mobility scooter, it is important to consider your loved one’s lifestyle needs and desires. Consult with a medical professional if you have any questions about which type of wheelchair would be best for your elderly parent. They will be able to help identify any necessary accommodations. And make sure that your loved one stays safe and comfortable while receiving in-home care.
What to Look for in a Wheelchair for In-Home Care?
When choosing a wheelchair, you need to consider the following:
Aluminum wheelchairs are lightweight, while steel wheelchairs are sturdier. This first category is cheaper and easy to store. But the second one provides solidness and durability for longer.
Size and Weight Capacity
Wheelchair seat width, depth, and height should be appropriate for your aging adult. Check if the vehicle can handle a heavier person. Larger people may need a wider seat to feel comfy.
Different types exist, such as manual wheelchairs, lightweight transport chairs, or power wheelchairs. Standard ones are easy to maneuver by hand. While transport chairs include larger wheels in the back that make them easier to push, their mobility is limited depending on battery life.
It is essential to think about what your loved one plans to do with the wheelchair. If they primarily want to sit and relax, then a basic chair would suffice. However, if your senior needs a wheelchair for getting around, you’ll need to consider more features. These can be adjustable height and tilt, brakes, armrests, footrests, and even cup holders.
Your budget will play a major role in deciding what wheelchair is most affordable and best fits your needs, especially if you’re planning to buy one outright instead of renting it from a home care agency. Luckily, many insurance plans cover the cost of mobility equipment like wheelchairs (when prescribed by a doctor). So check with your healthcare provider beforehand to make sure you’re covered.
How to Get a Wheelchair for Free?
If you or your loved one don’t have insurance that covers wheelchair costs, you can still get a wheelchair for free. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (NAAAA) has the Senior Medicare Patrol program. It helps seniors and their caregivers find financial assistance to cover wheelchair expenses.
There’s also an organization called United Spinal Association. It offers a wheelchair donation service. Where people donate used wheelchairs to those who cannot afford them otherwise.
Medicare provides programs that can help pay for wheelchair-related services. Read Medicare Part B to check if you are eligible for a free mobility scooter or wheelchair. You’ll probably need to ask your doctor to confirm you require a wheelchair for in-home care.
The same goes for the Medicaid program. But the terms may vary in different states. Medicaid covers wheelchair-related fees. Sometimes they can help with getting an electric wheelchair as well. If you’re a veteran, the Department of Veterans Affairs might also cover wheelchair costs.
The Wheelchair Foundation is a charity program that gives wheelchairs to those who cannot afford them. Founded in 2000, the program helps people in over 150 countries. The Wheelchair Foundation collaborates with dozens of organizations to distribute manual and electric wheelchairs.
You may also consider wheelchair rentals as they are less expensive than wheelchair purchases, especially if you need a wheelchair for a short time.
Used vs. New Wheelchair – Which Option Is Better for You?
If the wheelchair is not covered by insurance or other programs, it might be expensive to buy a wheelchair. There are two options: buying a new chair or purchasing a used one.
If you need a chair regularly, then getting a brand-new wheelchair makes sense. New wheelchairs last longer and may have higher quality components than cheaper models. Also, all parts of new wheelchairs should function properly. They should come with warranties just in case something goes wrong. This means you won’t have any additional expenses related to the wheelchair maintenance costs.
For occasional in-home use, a used wheelchair is the best option. The benefits include the following:
- It won’t break your budget.
- You can find a wheelchair that fits your senior’s needs perfectly.
Consider buying a used wheelchair only from reputable sellers. Make sure the wheelchair has all of its parts and works properly. Also, check if there are any defects or damages to the wheelchair. It’s recommended to try out the chair if possible before buying it. Make sure the adjustable parts (seat height and armrests) work properly so you can adjust them to the new user.
If you have any concerns or questions, consult with a wheelchair specialist. They will help you choose the most suitable wheelchair for your senior.
How to Make Your Home Wheelchair Friendly
When seniors receive in-home care, make sure their surrounding is wheelchair-friendly.
- Remove any obstacles in the pathway, such as cords, furniture, and rugs.
- Install wheelchair ramps if there are stairs at home.
- You can also get a wheelchair lift for your car to transport your loved one easily.
- Make sure the bathtub and toilet are wheelchair accessible.
- Your aging parents should know how to call their caregiver in case of emergency.
In-home care for wheelchair-enabled people requires a solid vehicle to move around the house. There are different types of wheelchairs available on the market today. Any of these could be an option for seniors who want to improve their mobility at home and outdoors.
Before buying a wheelchair for your seniors, consider new and used options. Check your governmental organizations as well as local charities. Perhaps your loved ones can get a wheelchair for free!
Julia Porter is a passionate writer at Marc’s Mobility, the top seller of mobility wheelchairs and electric scooters. Julia is into sharing her knowledge with others as she believes that sharing means caring. Caring for our dearest and nearest is a crucial role in our society.