As baby boomers age and are forced to make important decisions regarding their long-term care, many choose to stay at home and “age in place,” rather than be moved to a nursing home or assisted living facility when faced with disabilities. Choosing to remain in their own home gives people a sense of comfort and security of familiar surroundings and allows them to maintain personal relationships and connections to their community, friends, and family. These benefits are crucial for aging gracefully and independently, but the right measures need to be taken in order to ensure comfort and safety at home.
With falls being the number one cause of home fatalities among the senior population, this is one of the most important issues that should be addressed when assessing an elderly loved one’s safety at home. If you find that your senior’s well-being is compromised due to declining health or disabilities, it may be time to consider investing in a mobility solution. Everyday activities such as climbing stairs or navigating from one room to another can become a hazard but are easily preventable and manageable with the right equipment. In addition to the more commonly used scooters and walkers, mobility and accessibility equipment can also include auto lifts, stairlifts, turning seats, modular ramps, platform lifts, hospital beds and so much more. When helping your senior decide what mobility solution to invest in, it’s important to consider what options are best suited for his or her needs depending on the ailment, the structure of the home, budget, and financing tools.
The process of finding the right solution for your elderly loved one can be overwhelming at first glance—with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to pinpoint what will be the most helpful. The first step is to evaluate your elder’s needs based on his or her current state of health and living conditions. Survey the order and appearance of the senior’s home and take note of the overall state of the house. Is there an unusual amount of clutter piling up? Are items in disarray or put in the wrong place? If so, these may be signs that the elder is having difficulty walking from room to room and could benefit from a walker or wheelchair to help him or her maneuver safely and efficiently. Is he or she reluctant to climb or descend stairs? A motorized stairlift can be installed on the staircase to eliminate the risk of slipping or falling.
Besides installing ramps or lifts, there are many small changes that can be made around the home that is often overlooked but aid immensely in maintaining mobility throughout a house. Sharp corners in the kitchen, for example, can be dangerous if a senior should happen to fall. Make sure counters and tabletops have “bullnose” or rounded corners to prevent more serious injuries. Lower the shelving in cabinets so seniors don’t have to rely on step stools or stooping down to grab necessary items. In the bathroom, grab bars installed in the tub or shower add extra support, in addition to a shower chair and a removable shower nozzle. For more ease in the living room, consider extending the legs of furniture by a few inches so a senior doesn’t have to rock to get up. If he or she still has trouble rising, a lift chair, which pushes the entire chair up from its base, can be helpful in moving to a standing position. The important thing for a mobile senior is to keep moving. Canes and walkers are great tools to encourage activity.
After evaluating your elderly loved one’s needs, it’s important to research mobility solutions thoroughly, in order to determine costs and financing options. Even with good health insurance, mobility equipment can be tight on the budget for many seniors but is very affordable with the right plan. Many mobility equipment providers offer financing in the form of monthly payments to qualified customers. This is a good option for those who need the equipment but have to pay small amounts over time. When financing your purchase through credit, be sure to read the fine print to find out if a down payment is required, what the application fees and interest rates are, and exactly what your monthly payment will be. This ensures there are no unwelcome surprises down the road. Most insurance plans, including Medicare, cover a large portion of a new wheelchair or another powered device with a qualified medical professional’s statement that it’s medically necessary.
For those who do not have insurance or don’t qualify for government assistance, there are numerous places to look for free or inexpensive mobility equipment. Local churches and senior centers may have used equipment that has been donated by the public or hospitals and nursing homes often keep their older model wheelchairs to sell or rent out after they update to new models. Also, look for deals on the bulletin boards at nursing homes, assisted living, or veteran facilities. When purchasing second-hand wheelchairs or any other equipment, have it examined by a professional to make sure it’s safe to use.
There’s a lot to consider before investing in a mobility solution but choosing the right product will aid immensely in helping a senior maintain independence and mobility in their cherished home. If you or a loved one is unsure of where to begin the process, contact your local mobility solution provider for more information.
Dave Pagan is the CEO of Wilmington, NC-based 101 Mobility®, a franchised provider and installer of a broad range of high-quality, affordable brands of mobility and accessibility equipment. 101 Mobility® consultants and service personnel professionally install and service auto lifts, stairlifts, turning seats, modular ramps, platform lifts, and more for seniors and individuals of all ages with limited mobility caused by injuries or disabilities. 101 Mobility® also provides power wheelchairs and scooters and medical equipment including walkers, canes, hospital beds, therapeutic pumps, and more. 101 Mobility® expects to have more than 150 franchises in operation within five years. Prime franchise territories are available nationwide.
For more information, visit 101mobility.com or call (888) 258-0652.