Wheelchairs for Seniors

One of the most important measures of quality of life among seniors and older adults with disabilities. 2 in 5 older adults aged 65+ suffer a disability, which raises the need for a helpful tool. Wheelchairs are designed to help those with mobility issues to move around freely. There are dozens of these tools in the market, and choosing the best one can be daunting. Here is a guide to the best wheelchairs for the elderly.

What to Consider When Shopping for Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs for seniors are adapted to their needs, but lightweight and easy to use are two of the most important things to consider. The cost is another factor to consider. You don’t want to opt for a wheelchair model you can’t afford. Price of the model and whether it is budgeted for matters a lot when shopping for a wheelchair for an elderly loved one. Wheelchairs come in different sizes, ranging from lightweight to heavy-duty. One should opt for a model that meets their needs. Ask yourself the following questions when buying these tools:

  • Why do you need a wheelchair? Under what circumstances will you use it?
  • Will it be used indoors or outdoors?
  • Can the user move around a little?
  • Can the user push the wheels themselves or they’ll need help doing that?

The answers to these questions will help seniors or their loved ones make an informed decision about which wheelchair type to opt for.

Features to Look for in a Wheelchair

  • Footrests and armrests
  • Storage
  • Accessories
  • Protection from bad weather
  • Brakes
  • Seat size
  • Adjustments
  • Materials and cushioning
  • Foldability
  • Chair height
  • Seat height
  • Medicare coverage

Types of Wheelchairs for the Elderly

Wheelchairs are categorized into manual and power-driven. Manual wheelchairs are operated by seniors themselves when they sit o them. They come with bars that surround the larger wheels. Older adults are supposed to push the bars. They also come with handles at the back, which allows a caregiver or a loved one to push the chair in the intended direction.  Manual Wheelchairs include:

Standard Wheelchairs

These are the most affordable wheelchairs that older adults can find in the market. At over 36 pounds, standard wheelchairs are some of the heaviest. Because of their weight, transporting and propelling them can be challenging. They are constructed with cheaper materials and are uncomfortable. This means they are not the best choice for older adults looking for wheelchairs for long-term use.

Lightweight Wheelchairs

These wheelchairs are lighter than the standard wheelchairs, and many come with customization options, including armrests, adjustable back, footrests, and added cushioning that enhances comfort. Lightweight wheelchairs come in different types:

  • High-strength: High-weight lightweight wheelchairs are perfect for long-term use and traveling around because they are durable and weigh less. Seniors who like to go on vacations would love these wheelchairs.
  • Ultra-lightweight wheelchairs: these are wheelchairs are the lightest since they weigh below 30 pounds. they are the simplest to control and move around, making them a perfect choice for older adults who need to use wheelchairs for a longer period.

Power Wheelchairs

Power-driven or electric wheelchairs, on the other hand, depend on electric power to operate them.

  • Front-wheel drive: These electric wheelchairs come with two large drive wheels, located towards the front of the seat. They feature two casters to enhance stability and allow seniors easily operate the system.
  • Mid-wheel drive: These come with a drive system in the middle. They can propel well in limited spaces.
  • Rear wheel drive: These wheelchairs have a drive system in the rear and a caster towards the front of the seat. This allows older adults to maneuver at high speeds and enhance stability when moving on rough outdoors.

Turning Manual Wheelchairs into Power Wheelchairs

Seniors can decide to convert their manual wheelchairs into electric ones by simply attaching a power drive system. Wheelchairs converted into power wheelchairs can be converted into direct drive and belt drive. Direct drive, as its name suggests, is one with a motorized system with wheels directly attached to it. The belt drive has a motorized system attached to the wheelchair via a belt.

Does Medicare Cover Wheelchairs for the Elderly?

Wheelchairs are covered by Medicare Part B because they are considered durable medical equipment, but seniors must submit a well-written doctor’s report explaining that the user’s medical condition requires that they use a wheelchair. It must also confirm that the applicant has met the limited mobility requirements as described by the Medicare program. Read more about Medicare and wheelchairs at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/wheelchairs-scooters.

What is the Cost of a Good Wheelchair?

Wheelchairs vary in price, depending on the type, materials they are made with, features, and accessories. Manual wheelchairs are the least expensive, costing between $100 and $1,000. Electric wheelchairs are pricey, and their cost ranges between $1,500 and $30,000.