by francy Saunders www.seniorcarewithspirit.com
Dear Francy; My dad is 77 and he has arthritis and has a heck of a time getting around the house. He wants a scooter type of chair, do you think he can qualify?
Electric/Power chairs have really changed our physically challenged society and given them freedom. I feel that the chairs are simply wonderful for out and about. When I was a young person you rarely saw anyone in public in a wheelchair – they simply stayed at home. Can you imagine to be trapped inside a house because they could not walk any distance at all?Heart patients, lung problems with difficult breathing, arthritis and other things like MS and severe diabetes side effects have kept folks glued to their small inside living area for far to long. So the birth of these chairs is wonderful. The different insurance programs and medicare seem to be paying for the chairs and more and more people are using them. You can simply call your local medical supply and ask them how they decide on the insurance coverage, they will take you through the steps. They will even get the prescription from the doctor for you and plug you into the best buy.
But should you? NOW my caution. The chairs are additive to use and if you do use them all the time and no longer walk at all, that means you lose your muscles and you will not be “able” to walk. This may seem like a joke or no way, not me kind of thing…but it’s true and you have to understand what you’re trading off. If you have a problem with your lungs and then you never exercise your lungs or your legs, what comes next? If you have a problem with your weight and then you start to move around in a chair, is your weight going down? I doubt it. So here are some suggestions that you can go over and see how it would effect him:
- Have the patient or senior make a commitment that if they use the power chair all the time, they will do exercises from a sitting position to keep their muscles in their legs, thighs and buttock working. This way they can get out of a chair, up and down from the toilet and so on. The exercises I am talking about are found on the PBS stations or on video with “Sit and Be Fit” – you could find them at your local library, too.
- If the patient/senior says they will walk around the house in the morning when they are fresh and do their exercises and stretches. In the afternoon when they are getting tired or have more pain- then they will use the chair.
- The Patient/senior can use the chair on outings and around the outside of the house or when people are visiting to make life easier.
- The patient/senior can use the chair for household chores and such, but walks from their regular chair to the bathroom and back to keep their legs healthy.
- The patient/senior uses the chair all the time, but does a series of deep breathing exercises three times a day and daily does their sitting stretches and exercises. They practice getting up and down from a sturdy side chair with arms and keep those legs working for healthy movement.
I am not saying the chairs are not great…but many times using things that help you can also hinder you in the long run. Most older people with health problems, just think they have a short life span ahead anyway so they do not look into the future. You have to know that medical care is so advanced that people with severe health challenges do live for five, ten years or longer. That’s a long time to be bed ridden or stuck with a full time care facility because you did not think that exercise in your 70’s or 80’s was important.
Lots of men will promise to exercise and never do it. Lots of women with diabetes are very overweight and this chair allows them more access to food on whims. People in pain think the chairs will relieve the pain, when lots of times it promotes muscle cramps that are very painful. There is a trade off for using the chair. I simply want you and your dad to understand it is not a joke. His arthritis pain is not a joke either and if he can commit to exercise along with the chair then the combo could be a wonderful life enhancer.
Choosing to use a mobility chair should be a choice, you would hate to have your body force you into using a wheelchair or the power chair on a full time basis, just because you got lazy with exercise. Even if you are totally unable to walk…you need to exercise as much as you can. That’s how you stay well, that’s how your body functions work. You will find that digestion, intestinal, and breathing problems will develop if you do not exercise your body. That also means if you get a cold or flu you’re likely to get pneumonia and that can threaten your life. So be wise, talk it over and make sure the commitment to a mobile chair is really needed and properly used.
Please do read over my website tips and notice that I have a great Care Givers Workbook 101 that really helps with all the details that come up in giving care to a senior. Visit www.seniorcarewithspirit.com sign up for my newsletter and check out the workbooks on the products page.
Thanks for all you do for your dad,