Do you need a self-propelled wheelchair that’s easy to lift into the trunk or back seat of your vehicle? A lightweight wheelchair is the answer. Here are some tips on choosing a wheelchair that’s lightweight and transport-friendly.
Most lightweight wheelchairs range from 27 to 35 pounds. With removable accessories, you can take the chair apart so that it’s lighter and easier to lift. Look for removable leg riggings, arm rests, and quick-release rear wheels are features that you should look for if you want to make the wheelchair lighter and more compact.
Since aluminum is lighter than steel, most lightweight wheelchairs are constructed with aluminum. Even though it’s lighter than steel, aluminum is just as strong and durable. It also resists rusting and corrosion.
Most caregivers are strong enough to lift a lightweight wheelchair into the trunk or back seat of a vehicle. We recommend practicing safe lifting techniques to protect yourself from muscle strain and injuries. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
If you suffer from back problems or if the wheelchair is still too heavy for you to lift, use a wheelchair ramp to load the chair into your vehicle and to move the unoccupied chair up and down stairs. Folding portable wheelchair ramps and mounted van ramps are available in different sizes and designs to fit your mobility needs.
When it comes to keeping your loved one safe, the bathroom is one of the first places to start. Bathroom safety products can make your loved one feel more secure and stay more independent by preventing falls.
Getting in and out of the bathtub is difficult for seniors who suffer from weakness or injury in the lower body and hips. Stepping over the tub wall can throw your body off balance, and your feet can easily slip on the tub floor or on the slippery tile outside the tub.
A bath transfer bench makes it easier and safer to get in and out of the tub. Instead of stepping over the side of the tub, you can sit down on the bench, lift one leg at a time into the tub, and then slide over to the center of the bench.
A transfer bench not only keeps you safe getting into the tub, but it also keeps you safe while taking a bath. Even though sitting on the tub floor might not be a possibility anymore (since getting up from the tub is difficult or impossible for seniors with weakness or injuries), you can still sit down while bathing or showering. Sitting on a bath transfer bench is safer and more comfortable than standing. With drainage holes, non-slip texturing, or a towel draped over the seat, the chances of slipping are greatly reduced. A hand held shower head makes it easy to rinse off and control the flow of water.
For safety, make sure the bath transfer bench is sitting solidly on all four legs. The bench should not rock or tilt to one side.
If you’ve ever had to use crutches, you know what a bother they can be. Using crutches requires both hands and a good sense of balance and coordination. It often leads to soreness, and using crutches over a long distance is tiring.
Fortunately, there are other options, such as a knee walker (also called a knee scooter). A knee walker allows you to get around independently (unlike a wheelchair) and takes the strain off of your arms and hands. With crutches, you are more likely to trip or fall, but with a knee scooter, you have better balance. The wheels allow you to move faster and further than crutches, and when you need to rest, just use the knee pad as a bench or as a footstool to elevate your leg.
Knee walkers are designed for injuries below the knee. The individual must be able to bend his or her leg at the knee and rest the upper shin on the knee pad.
Some rolling knee walkers include a front basket for carrying books, a water bottle, a wallet or purse, and anything else you need to bring. The entry level models provide the basics at a more affordable price. Higher end knee walkers offer more amenities, like swivel wheels, steerable front wheels, and storage options. All knee walkers include hand brakes for safety.
This month’s caregiver story comes from Jessica Mast, a caregiver to her late husband, Jimmy, from 2005-2006 while he suffered from liver failure and a failed immune system. He was in and out of the hospital for seven months before passing away on his 28th birthday on June 17, 2006. Huge thanks to Jessica for her courage in sharing her story on this blog and through her speaking engagements. Jessica is also the author of The Call of a Caregiver.
1) How do you find the support that you need as a caregiver?
“I found my greatest support while caring for my late husband from my faith in God and also from talking to or reading about others who had been in a similar situation. My biggest support also came from our family who was there for us all the time as well as the caring medical staff at the hospitals.”
2) What brings you joy in caregiving?
“My greatest joy came from being able to be there and comfort Jimmy. It was joyful for me to take care of him physically, emotionally and spiritually. To see that I could meet his needs brought me joy. Also, to see how our experiences were used to comfort others brought both of us tremendous joy.”
3) What are the biggest obstacles that you face in caring for your loved one?
“My biggest obstacle was to keep from experiencing burn out. So many times I felt like I couldn’t keep going – I was physically and emotionally exhausted. And the discouragement after multiple hospital stays was hard to overcome. Each time I felt like I couldn’t keep going, I found my strength in prayer. God would give me the strength to do what I needed to everyday.”
4) What is the most helpful caregiving tip that you could share with another caregiver?
“The most helpful caregiving tip I could give to another caregiver would be first, for them to know that they’re not alone. Being a caregiver can feel lonely, but just to know that there are others who have been there who understand what they are going through. Also, for them to rely on the Lord for their strength. Another tip I would share would be to focus on what they have to be thankful for (writing a list really helps). This was probably one of the most helpful things to me.”