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Is Self-Propelled Wheelchair A Good Choice?
Wheelchairs are available in a variety of specifications these days, especially to provide a fitting wheelchair for the complex mobility requirements of some people. A lot of these people have to spend long periods sitting on the chair, so they need a solution that not only comes with added comfort and reliability, but also with a functionality that helps them operate the wheelchair themselves and stop being a burden on their family members or for that matter not occupy their family members all the time.
Self-propelled wheelchairs can be propelled by users themselves by using push-rims fitted on rear wheels. They also come with pushing handles, which makes it easy to be pushed by another person, if need be. Their larger rear wheels are an advantage when you need to push the chair over an obstacle.
Weight of the self-propelled wheelchair or any other type for that matter is a big concern. You don’t want a wheelchair that has too much of weight. Add your weight to it too. You wouldn’t want a wheelchair that requires you to push a weight that is on the higher side. Self-propelled chairs have to be lighter in weight than all the other types as the person with mobility problems will be pushing it herself/himself.
As we age, the honour of becoming someone’s grandparent is amongst the best things imaginable. From the moment you first set eyes on your grandson or granddaughter, you’ll be in love with every part of them. It’s a feeling like becoming a parent all over again, but now your primary job is to enjoy this new life without the pressures that you felt with your own child.
Spending time with your grandchildren is exceptionally rewarding, but whether they’re visiting for an hour or you’ve offered to be their full-time carer whilst their Mum and Dad work, there will be times when you feel that they’re taking their toll too much. That’s absolutely fine – even parents get exhausted sometimes, and so there’s certainly no reason that an aging grandparent can’t also feel the strain!
Here are a few ways to manage things, when the grandchildren require too much energy:
Isn’t it amazing how much a child can eat? As primary carer for even an hour, you’re likely to find yourself preparing some food. The kitchen becomes one of the hardest places to navigate as we age, which is why Meals on Wheels-type services are so popular and so valuable, but giving yourself a helping hand in the kitchen can ensure that you stay on top of your grandchild’s demands for food. With an egg boiler you can boil enough eggs for every grandchild in one go, without the risk of spilling hot water from a pan, and other helpful tools like jar openers can save you time and reduce the chance of an injury.
Use Child Safety Equipment
As a parent, certain child safety devices are absolutely essential. Others might be seen as less important, a waste of money or something that you can avoid using by moving your child away from the hazard. When you’re the grandparent, constantly pulling a toddler away from danger can take its toll on your body. Don’t be afraid to use every safety device known to man, to make your home as safe as possible. Ideally, you’ll feel comfortable knowing that there isn’t a single risk in the house for your toddler or young grandchild. Stoppers for drawers, locks for cupboards, stair gates and padded hearth surrounds might seem over-cautious, but they’ll save you a lot of worry.
Take a Step Back
Sometimes enough is enough, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Your grandchildren shouldn’t be taking every ounce of your energy. If you’re required to care for them when their parents aren’t around, don’t be afraid to say that you can no longer offer that service.
Taking a step back will enable you to continue to enjoy your grandchildren, and to create with them the memories that they’ll treasure through life, rather than becoming too exhausted to spend quality time with your family. Your own children should understand that you can no longer handle their children when you’re on your own with them, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t spend time with the whole family together.
When an individual finds it impossible to climb up or go down staircases by themselves, it is natural to feel like a prisoner in their own house. Using a stairlift in such a case can dramatically improve their quality of life.
One of the major concerns when a person’s mobility is affected is that of safety. This becomes all the more crucial when the person needs to take the stairwell. While a caregiver can always be hired to provide all the necessary help and support, it is more to do with regaining the feeling of independence for the affected person.
Modern stairlifts are compact and smartly designed for a safe installation. Installing them at the staircases can be one of the simplest mobility solutions. They can prevent accidents, can be trusted and above all, allow the person to be more independent when taking the stairs. Besides, installing a stairlift can actually eliminate the need for the affected person to be shifted to some other living facility. That, in turn, leads to a huge amount of savings and hassle.
Stairlift models can be of varying kinds and they must be chosen after a thorough evaluation of the specific needs of a home.
Despite your disability, you may still be able to drive a car. If your disability might affect your driving ability, then you’ll need to disclose this information to the DVLA. You might also be a regular passenger in a friend or family member’s car.
You wouldn’t leave the house without those ‘essentials’ that you always have packed. So, what 5 things can you put in your car that you’ll definitely want to keep there?
It’s always wise to keep a small supply of drinks and snacks in your car. Most people remember to do this during particularly cold weather, when they might be stranded at the roadside, but the truth is that cars can break down anywhere at any time. In fact, breaking down in hot weather might be even more difficult than being stuck away from home when it’s cold!
Emergency supplies are useful if a journey is taking longer than you expected, or if something goes wrong and you’re left waiting for help. Keep them with you at all times.
Blue Badge timer disc
If you’re a Blue Badge holder, then your parking clock/timer disc is a valuable addition to your vehicle. Keep this in your car so that it’s always on hand.
You can buy wallets with built-in parking discs, which can be particularly useful to have around. You can slot your blue badge into the other half of the wallet, so that everything is easily visible and will be well protected.
A swivel cushion rotates on the spot, making it easier to get into your car. Put it onto your seat and you can sit down facing out of your vehicle’s door, then spin into position comfortably. You don’t need to lower yourself into the seat at a sideways angle, nor will you struggle with twisting your body and potentially pulling a muscle.
Swivel seats are useful for a wide range of people, but can be particularly helpful to wheelchair users that need to transfer from their wheelchair to the car.
The HandyBar car support offers help and peace of mind to people with limited mobility.
You’ll probably use the Handy Bar only for getting in and out of your vehicle. This sturdy non-slip handle fixes to a certain point on your door frame, so that you can use it as a grab rail to pull yourself out of the car.
If you were in an accident, you could also use the tool to cut yourself free of your seatbelt. The HandyBar can additionally be used to smash a window, if needed. It’s a helpful tool that you can make use of day-to-day, with thoughtful additional features that you can rely upon in an emergency.
Massage seat cover
If your car seat isn’t the most comfortable, you can add a massage seat cover that will gently move and warm your back to soothe any aches and pains. If you find driving a bit difficult due to the position that you need to sit in, then a massaging seat cover can really help. Before installing anything extra, check that your seat is set up correctly. You might find that you can ease any pain that you’re experiencing just by raising or lowering the seat, tilting it back a bit or reducing the angle that it’s positioned at.
Your car is a big part of your independence. If you like to travel, or need to drive to work, then it could be almost as important as your home. Make sure that you keep it equipped with anything that you’d find useful – it doesn’t need to be a bare, minimalist environment!
As your parents age, they’ll require some physical care. 33% of elderly people trip or fall each year, with many of these incidents leading to head injuries, damage to the hips or broken bones. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 falls will lead to a serious injury. On top of the risk of trips and falls, elderly people require a wide range of other physical care to help with day to day living.
The pressure on carers, including relatives, can be immense. As older people need more and more support, care and attention, their loved ones can feel the stress and strain of providing physical care. In fact, the physical care can feel so time consuming and so essential that an elderly person’s emotional and mental needs can be pushed down the list or forgotten. Yet, the emotional care might even be more important.
The elderly and isolation
One of the biggest issues facing an older person is the issue of isolation, which may lead to depression. In part due to a lack of confidence and in part due to a weakening physical state, many older people find it difficult to get out into their neighbourhoods and to socialise as they once did. Other issues can add to a feeling of isolation, including hearing difficulties that make conversations hard to follow.
Worries about aging, fears about the future and deteriorating health will all have an impact on your elderly parent. Studies show that up to 13.5% of elderly people are living with depression, and that it’s most common in those that require additional physical care or hospital stays.
The link between physical and mental health
It seems obvious that physical and mental health can be linked. Poor physical health can lead to the feelings of depression and isolation, and can restrict someone’s ability to access services that can help them to improve their state of mind. Perhaps more interestingly, the same applies in reverse.
Poor mental health can lead to a deterioration in physical health. Depression, stress and anxiety can trigger headaches and blood pressure changes, a loss of appetite (and associated physical problems), and memory loss or confusion which can increase the risk of a fall or an injury.
Studies show that whilst keeping active is good for an older person’s mind as well as their body, it’s also true that staying social will help to reduce the risk of injury or illness.
How can you help?
An active social life and a focus on good mental health brings many benefits for an elderly parent. Included in these benefits is peace of mind, as older people feel safer and more secure if they’re active in their communities. A good mental state can also lead to fewer concerns about how long it would take to get help, if an emergency ever required it.
Good levels of mental health can come from physical needs being met, but there is far more to it. Encourage social interaction – bring the grandchildren over, arrange for days out and activities or suggest places that your elderly parent might like to go with friends – and also promote the use of quizzes, puzzles, games and mentally stimulating activities. A sharp mind is one of your elderly parent’s best tools for a happy, healthy retirement.
We all want to stay in good health as we age. If we don’t look after our bodies then we risk retirement years filled with illness and injury. Whilst staying fit isn’t a guarantee of excellent health beyond middle age, it’s certainly going to help you along the way. That’s why it’s worth thinking about these 4 things that will help you to grow old with a focus on health and fitness:
Everywhere you go, you’re told about the importance of healthy eating. It’s mentioned in all sorts of advertisements and medical documents, your doctor probably tells you about it frequently and even when you’re indulging in fast food you’ll find nutritional information on your burger box.
What people fail to tell you in equal frequency is how important it is to drink well – to stay hydrated with more than two litres of water each day and to attempt to avoid dehydrating drinks like cups of tea and bottles of cola. Staying hydrated has a positive impact on your mind and memory, whilst helping to reduce a whole host of health issues including headaches, sight problems and blood pressure issues.
Mind and Body are Connected
Your mind and your body are not separate things to focus on. In fact, the two are strongly linked. Being physically active will keep your mind strong, helping with thought and memory, whilst poor mental health can have a negative impact on your body and can make you ill. It is pointless to focus on just one area – instead, you need to look at the big picture and how you feel and behave overall. An active social life can do more than just give you someone to drink coffee with.
Recommendations are Constantly Changing
One week, eating eggs will lead to an early demise. The next, eggs are recommended as a superfood. Broccoli could be a natural medicine according professionals, but might be described as a toxin in the future. The recommendations about what to eat are changing by the day and they’re almost impossible to keep up with. It’s important to pay some attention, but don’t get caught up in trying to find exactly the right thing to eat. You’ll feel stressed, you’ll worry unnecessarily and you’ll end up no better for it. Instead, stick to a nutritious variety of natural foods and limit your consumption of processed foods, but don’t worry about the small details.
Future Generations Are Counting on You
Your knowledge and experience really does matter. Lives are becoming busier and people are finding less time to pay attention to health, fitness and nutrition. Your grandchildren will have very different lifestyles to the one that you enjoyed as a child – they might have limited time in the kitchen and might be a bit clueless about the origins of their food. As well as giving yourself a sense of purpose, you can make a difference to future generations by imparting your knowledge and wisdom. Teach children and teenagers about the great outdoors, how to cook cheap and wholesome meals and what portion sizes should be like for people their age. You’ll benefit from regular reminders to stay on track with your own health, and you’ll grow old gracefully knowing that your knowledge is helping other people.
Seeing your grandson or granddaughter graduating with their qualifications is sure to be a proud moment. Now they’re an adult, seemingly independent, learning to navigate the world of work, bills and time balance all on their own. Or, at least, with a little background support from parents and grandparents.
No doubt you want to do as much as you can to help your grandchild through this next stage of their life. Here are just a few of the ways that you can help:
Save some money
The final years of education, and the decade that follows graduation, can be some of the most financially worrying years. Young adults don’t yet have the experience of budgeting and money management, but do have new bills and expenses to deal with. They also now have access to tempting sources of credit, which can be all too easy to get hold of.
Financial support will always be appreciated by your grandson or granddaughter, but what’s important is not to just give them the money. If they’re really struggling then you might want to cover their bills or order groceries on their behalf, but a better long-term solution is to save the money up in case of an emergency. Let them learn from their own mistakes as they try to keep control of their budget, but have a helpful financial gift to offer if it’s ever really needed. That same fund, if not used in an emergency, could be given to help with the purchase of a house when the time is right.
Hand over your life lessons
You’ll hear constantly that today’s young people are detached from those around them. In fact, many are more aware than ever of the connections between people and the experiences that different people have. Grandparents, increasingly, are seen as a source of information and wisdom. This isn’t in an “I wish I’d asked them more when I had the chance” way; it’s in a “How can I get this information from them?” way. It’s forward thinking – these young adults care about what the older generations have to say, but might not feel comfortable sitting down and asking you to impart your worldly wisdom.
You can give your grandson or granddaughter, as a recent college graduate, a gift that they’ll treasure forever. Take time to record or write down some of your memories and life experiences, some tips and advice, messages and ‘treats’ (such as a recording of you playing a musical instrument, or a reading of a poem that says something that you think is important). Share ideas about some of the best books to read, include a few recipes and add some photographs. A record of some of the things that you want to share about your life will be a much appreciated gift, as well as one that will be useful in your grandchild’s future.
Be someone to talk to
The most important thing that you can do is to offer your ear to your grandchild, letting them know that they can always turn to you for help, advice and support. As well as being financially turbulent, these years can come with a whole host of other challenges including navigating relationships, perhaps entering the world of parenthood and potentially dealing with workplace troubles.
Your grandchild will value a non-judgmental person to turn to, and with modern technologies such as Skype and social networking, it can be easier than ever for you to stay in touch and be available every day.
Managing a disability can sometimes make you feel like you need some ‘down time’. It can be hard to find somewhere quiet, peaceful and relaxing when you’re limited by poor accessibility, but have you stopped to think recently that you could be living seconds from your sanctuary?
Your garden can be your ‘little patch of heaven’ – colourful flowers, the gentle buzzing of a bee, the occasional fluttering of butterfly wings and many beautiful scents, coupled with a light breeze and the warmth of the sun can really soothe the mind. What’s more, your garden is an ever-changing space that brings something new each day – plants and trees change with the seasons, autumn brings crunchy leaves, you can enjoy the refreshing rain and you’ll see different types of wildlife at every time of the year. Gardens are sensory spaces, places to escape from the noise and chaos of the surrounding world, and you can design your garden to your own personal tastes and preferences.
How does your garden grow?
Some people enjoy a traditional garden with neat rows of flowers and expansive grassy spaces. Some people like water features, trickling streams and waterfalls. Some people like pebbles or paving. Your garden can look however you want, with sheltered spaces and open areas to suit your needs and requirements. What’s more, your garden can be designed to work with your disability rather than against it – solid level pathways for wheelchairs, strongly scented flowers to be enjoyed by those with visual impairments and perhaps a garden den enabling a child with a disability to enjoy some outdoor time with friends, can all be added to your own unique garden plan.
How else can a garden be a sanctuary for someone with a disability?
The maintenance of a garden can be just as therapeutic as spending time in it. Gardening is a popular hobby, and for very good reason. The sense of achievement that comes from successfully growing plants and flowers is one that not everyone gets to enjoy – some people simply aren’t green-fingered, or they find that they don’t have time, but if you have even an hour or two to spare each week then you can look after your garden yourself.
If you’re not able to get to ground level then consider planting flowers in raise plant pots on stands, or fixed to a wall. You can even grow your own herbs for cooking, or deliberately pick out plants to attract bees or butterflies. In addition, a bird table and bird bath can be appreciated additions to your garden along with, if you’re feeling more adventurous, a ‘bug hotel’ or a hedgehog house.
Garden aids such as kneeling mats, easy grip garden tools and a garden trolley make it possible for people with restricted mobility to enjoy many of the more intensive gardening activities that they might have considered to be out of their reach, which means that maintaining your garden can be an ‘interest’ for you and not something that someone else will do on your behalf. You’re likely to find that gardening can be great for stress relief – pruning plants, feeding the fish in the pond and mowing the lawn can all be enjoyable activities when you have time to focus on them and the right tools and supports.
If a family member has recently become less mobile than they used to be, then accommodating their new needs will likely be your top priority. The home environment can be changed and altered to suit a wheelchair user, but it will require some planning and some of the money from your bank account.
What if I can’t afford to make adjustments?
Government grants are available to help to minimise the financial impact of adjusting a home for a wheelchair user – or, in fact, for any other disability or illness that will lead to adaptations being required. These grants can cover a variety of changes to the structure or layout of the home, from wider doorways to improved heating or lighting. Grants are provided in addition to any other disability benefits that are being claimed, subject to proof of eligibility and evidence of household income.
What else do I need to think about?
Certain adjustments – those that alter the structure or total area of the property – may require planning permission. This might mean that you need to hire architects and surveyors. Their fees can be covered by your grant, if you’ve applied for one. It’s important not to cut corners on this step, because you might otherwise receive fines for the changes that you’ve put in place.
What kind of changes can I make?
Every individual with have their own requirements, which may be identical to others with a similar condition but could be completely different. Only you and your family will know which changes are going to be of most benefit.
Grab rails in the bathroom, lowered toilets and walk-in showers are amongst the most popular adjustments for the majority of wheelchair users, whilst elevators and stair lifts allow upper floor access for those that can no longer climb stairs. You might decide that installing an elevator to provide upstairs access, and adjusting a pre-existing bathroom to accommodate a wheelchair, is too complicated and too costly. In that case, you instead have the option of modifying a downstairs room to convert it into a bedroom, and adding a ground floor bathroom that has been created specifically with a wheelchair user in mind. This is also an important safety consideration – sticking to the ground floor enables a wheelchair user to escape more quickly in the event of a fire or emergency, though an evacuation sledge is an option for people that still want their upper floor bedroom.
You’ll also need to think about how the property is going to be accessed. Wider doorways are usually an essential, both inside the property and to access it, but ramps may also be needed. These can be permanent constructions or temporary fold-out ramps that can also be taken out and about, and stored away when not in use.
Finally, think about changing heights of work surfaces, enabling a wheelchair user to continue to wash the dishes and prepare their meals. Other more condition-specific adaptations may be required, but these can be discussed as a family and with any relevant medical professionals. Also look online for support groups filled with users that might have their own hints, tips and personal recommendations based on experience.
A home is a sanctuary – a safe haven and somewhere to feel comfortable. We would all love for our homes to be clean and tidy all of the time, but life can get in the way. Don’t we all wish that we could have a team of professional cleaners to take away some of the pressure?
Aging takes its toll on the body, and as a result it affects the home. Weaknesses and pains, even minor, can affect a person’s ability to keep on top of the cleaning and home maintenance.
Identifying the Warning Signs
Is your aging parent beginning to struggle? The first warning signs might be simple, like seeing the mail being ignored or the dishes piling up, but you should also look for more subtle indications like a build-up of dust or marks or stains that would indicate that clothes are being re-worn without going through the wash.
Reachers and grabbers are amongst the most valuable tools for an aging parent struggling to pick things up from the floor, but if your parent is struggling a lot then perhaps the best things that you can do is to install carefully placed grab rails that they can use to get around.
Identify where your parent is struggling the most, to find tools and pieces of equipment that will have the biggest impact. If the lawn is looking overgrown, can gardening aids like a garden kneeler help your parents to continue to look after their beloved shrubs and plants? Inside the home, can you make food preparation a little easier by purchasing a jar opener or buying cutlery with larger handles?
People age differently, and so what benefits one older person might be useless to another. Speak to your parents about their individual struggles, and what could most help them.
Knowing When Enough is Enough
As a parent ages, their child can become their best advocate. The mother that once fought for her son or daughter’s best interests might then depend on that same son or daughter to fight for hers, and to make the decisions that will have an impact on her life.
Caring isn’t about taking on all of the responsibility for yourself, and it isn’t just about providing the tools that will help an aging parent to stay independent for as long as possible – caring is also about knowing when the next stage of support will be required.
Keep watch for changing needs and abilities. The daily living aids that you purchased might have helped once, but over time they’ll no longer be enough. At this stage your parent might require more of your attention, or a home care provider that can visit when you’re unable to. A residential care home will likely be the next step, when they can no longer live independently.
You can make looking after the home easier by providing the right equipment and encouraging independence for as long as possible, but be an active advocate and be aware then your mother or father’s care needs change. You are their best voice, and because of that you should be aware of their limitations and yours.