There is no such thing as a typical wheelchair user. Sure, we may often associate the need for a wheelchair to be one held by elderly individuals. But wheelchairs are mobility solutions for anyone who requires assistance with moving around. A debilitating illness or injury is reason enough for someone to need a wheelchair in order to get from place to place – regardless of age. And, oftentimes, individuals facing such mobility issues require the help of caregivers as well.
What are the first things a caregiver of someone in a wheelchair needs to know?
Caregivers of wheelchair users definitely need to get handles on the capabilities of those they are helping. Many wheelchair users have the ability to move their wheelchairs along themselves, either through motorized controls or with their own arm strength. Many others need the help of others to push them along. For example, stroke victims and people with heart conditions are cautioned not to overexert themselves.
Those caring for wheelchair users shouldn’t be afraid to simply ask if help is needed. It’s always better to ask than to assume. Of course, it’s important for a caregiver to have enough strength to push a wheelchair along him/herself. Assessing the weight of both the wheelchair and the user is key. That way, there is both an ease associated with the help being given and an insurance of safety for both the user and the caregiver.
The importance of navigation.
Not only should a caregiver know how to navigate through the neighbouring areas of a wheelchair user’s home, he/she should know where to locate wheelchair-accessible facilities. Generally, all public places should have some form of accessibility, such as wheelchair ramps. But knowing exactly where they are and how to easily and safely get to them is of vital importance. It’s wise to think of your route before embarking on a public journey.
Know where the washrooms are!
This is a big one. Naturally, there are wheelchair accessible washrooms available in most public places, but they may not always be located directly beside the standard washrooms. As well, they may not necessarily be private. Is your loved one in dire need of privacy? Or is it acceptable for him/her to use a traditional washroom that includes a handicapped stall?
The bed to wheelchair transfer.
One of your most important tasks will be helping your loved one to transition from his/her bed to the wheelchair and vice versa at bedtime. Here’s a reminder about the 3-step process that is recommended by The Cleveland Clinic:
- Position the wheelchair. Firstly, be sure to move the wheelchair leg rests out of the way. Secondly, lock the wheels into place so that they wheelchair doesn’t move.
- Get your loved one in an upright position. Have your loved one roll on his/her side and then use his/her upper body strength to get upright as you help slide his/her legs over the side of the bed.
- Help him/her stand and pivot. “Have the person lean forward with his nose over his toes to distribute the weight onto his good foot or feet,” advises The Cleveland Clinic, “Then, help guide and pivot him on the weight-bearing foot or feet and lower him into the chair.”
At Advantage Home Health Solutions, we proudly offer both wheelchairs and power wheelchairs as ideal mobility solutions for people who have little or no ability to walk. We pride ourselves on our knowledge of the different types of power wheelchairs, and we will happily help you to determine which type of wheelchair fits your unique needs.
If you have any questions about the wheelchairs that Advantage Home Health Solutions has to offer, please don’t hesitate to contact us to ask them. Give us a call at 403-460-5438. You may also email us by filling out the form on our Contact Us page!