Family caregivers are responsible for many things requiring skills that they may never have had to use before and may be wondering what is the best way to accomplish certain tasks.
Caring for a wheelchair may be one of those things.
Often we are learning about wheelchairs at the same time as our senior loved one, so they are unable to direct us based on their experience.
That does not, of course, reduce our desire to care for them and their well-being as we care for their wheelchairs.
Tips for Safe Wheelchair Use
It isn’t enough just to push your senior loved one here and there, out in the community, or just inside the house from room to room.
Caregivers want to be sure that the wheelchair their senior loved ones use is safe and in good working condition.
There are many ways for wheelchairs to wear out or be used in such a way that harm could occur. In fact, in 2016, almost 18% of all wheelchair users were injured in a wheelchair-related accident and 44-57% reported a wheelchair breakdown. Worse yet, 20-30% of those with a breakdown were stranded at or away from home.
Here are a few tips for wheelchair safety:
- Check the wheels regularly – ensure the wheels aren’t loose or have flat tires, which may impact its braking ability. Don’t forget the spokes, as broken spokes can keep the chair from moving freely. In addition, keep the spokes clear of obstructions, such as lap blankets.
- Keep the wheels well-oiled for proper functioning.
- Check the brakes often to be sure they still lock tightly to prevent accidents. Always lock brakes before transferring your senior in and out of chair!
- Don’t overload the chair with heavy bags, especially on the back, which could cause it to tip over.
- If the wheelchair is battery powered, inspect the system for safety and keep it out of the rain. Check the speed and reprogram it to a lower rate for safety if needed.
- Don’t allow children to play on wheelchairs.
- Keep the chair clean, including chair seat, arms, and wheels, to prevent the spread of germs and prolong its life.
- Pay close attention to the surface on which your senior is riding to prevent tipping over due to cracks or holes in pavement or any change in grade, including carpeting.
- Be aware of people nearby (not to mention small pets) so that they don’t get run over, causing injury to them or the senior in the wheelchair.
You may want to keep the owner’s manual handy in case service or warranty information is required.
Using a wheelchair can be vital to seniors who have difficulty walking or have limited stamina so that they can stay engaged in the community and socialized with those they love.
Keeping the wheelchair in good working order will help you keep them safe and them a part of the action!
Those tips are a quick snapshot about caring for a wheelchair but here are a few more articles you might find informative.