Tips for Choosing the Right Wheelchair for Your Elderly Parent


Limited mobility can take away your independence. You need additional help to get around but want something that is convenient to use. Wheelchairs can help your elderly parents give mobility again. A wheelchair can improve your quality of life as you continue to be active and interact with your friends and family. Choosing a new wheelchair for your elderly parent can be tough. It is, however, important to get a wheelchair that works for your parents’ needs. So, what tips could you use when choosing a wheelchair for your elderly parents?

Self-Propelled Manual Chairs Work for Those with Good Arm Mobility

There are several types of wheelchairs, but the two main options are electric and manual. One of the most popular manual wheelchairs is the self-propelled variety. These are ideal for many and may help your elderly parent too. Unfortunately, they don’t work for every user. For instance, your elderly mother is 85 and has use of her arms. She can propel herself in the chair but isn’t able to handle more than five minutes. While your mother has some mobility, she doesn’t have the strength to push herself. So, you or a care assistant will need to be with her when she’s out and about. 

On the other hand, if your mother has good stamina and a lot of power in her arms, the self-propelled manual wheelchair would be ideal. Of course, it really depends on the length of the journey and how convenient your mother would find pushing herself along. 

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Electric Wheelchairs Give Users More Independence

Your parents are independent people. They love being social and continue to be an active member of the community. While they remain active, they need a wheelchair to get them to the shops, church meetings, and to the local community centers. Sometimes, electric-assisted wheelchairs can provide greater convenience. For example, your father is 75 and needs a wheelchair outside the home. He is an active member of the local community and spends several days a week at a voluntary group. An electric wheelchair could allow him to easily get from his home to wherever he needs to be.

You don’t need to be there, and he doesn’t need to push himself there either. It’s more convenient for your father and gives him the freedom and independence he wants. Of course, you’ll find power-assisted wheelchairs to cost more; however, they can be an ideal choice on occasion

The Weight of the Wheelchair

You might not think it matters if the wheelchair weighs fifty pounds or a hundred pounds; however, it is an essential factor to consider nonetheless. For instance, your elderly parents travel a lot, and your father uses a wheelchair. Your mother is 65 and is the one who’ll be helping your father get in and out of the vehicle, not to forget putting the wheelchair in the back of the chair. It’s not exactly ideal to have a heavy wheelchair as it’ll be challenging to transport. Your mother might struggle to lift a hundred-pound chair and may cause a few additional problems too. 

Consider Their Future Needs

Currently, your elderly parents have only minor health issues; however, that could all change. It might be easier to choose a versatile wheelchair that can be used for the next ten years. For example, your mother has a chronic illness. Her muscles are weak but can move around the home with relative ease and the wheelchair is only necessary for outdoor use. Unfortunately, in less than eighteen months, her condition worsens, and an electric wheelchair is required. So, instead of buying a manual one now and purchasing an electric one in less than two years’ time, it makes more sense to go for electric now. It might be easier in the long-term scheme of things. 

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Make Sure the Wheelchair Is Suitable for Your Parents Weight

Wheelchairs have maximum user weight limits. Exceeding the recommended weight limit may cause any warranty you have to become invalid. It could also cause serious problems for your parent. While the standard wheelchair can hold around 18-stone in weight, there are ones suitable for larger individuals. Don’t be afraid to look for them, especially when the elderly are involved. The wheelchairs need to be comfortable and support the weight of your parent. Otherwise, you put them at risk. When choosing a new wheelchair, always take note of the maximum or recommended weight limit. It does make a difference.

Measure The Seat Size

Seat size is an essential element of any wheelchair and yet, it’s easy to put to the back of your mind. You not only need to ensure your parents are comfortable on short journeys but longer ones too. When the size of the seat is wrong, it’s easy to feel squashed into the chair. For example, your father is a shorter man but quite stocky. You buy a 25-inch width wheelchair. Unfortunately, this is smaller than the standard 28-inch-wide models. As a result, your father is slightly too big for the chair. Your father mightn’t want to say and squeeze into the wheelchair, which can cause him a lot of discomforts. 

Instead, it is best to opt for a standard 28-inch model; however, you should always measure the width of the seat and whether it’s suitable for your parent. It’s easier to measure out the size so that you can be sure the wheelchair is right for your father or mother. 

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Adjustable Armrests Are Convenient When Your Parents Needs Help Getting in and Out of the Chair

Armrests are supposed to support your arms comfortably. When you’re in a wheelchair, and the armrests aren’t at a suitable height, it can cause several issues, including the discomfort. Being able to adjust these is necessary. When you’re buying a wheelchair, it’s essential to look at how adjustable the armrests are, especially if your parent needs assistance getting on and off the chair. You’ll be able to help them more effectively. 

Comfortable Seat Cushions

You don’t think about the seat or seat cushions when buying a new wheelchair for an elderly parent; however, it’s a crucial factor. Remember, your mother or father is likely to be sitting in the wheelchair for a considerable period and if the seat isn’t comfortable, it’s going to be unpleasant for them. It’s essential to have a cushioned seat. You might even want to upgrade from a basic to a premium cushion for maximum comfort. 

The Right Wheelchair Is Out There

It’s difficult choosing a wheelchair when it’s for an elderly parent and not yourself. What you think is suitable may not be what your parent has in mind. Of course, you should include them in the decision-making since it’s going to be their chair. It’s not an easy decision to make because there are many wheelchairs to choose from. The above tips are just a handful of things that could make it easier for you to find the right wheelchair for your elderly parent.

About the author:

Trevor Fenner is the founder and owner of Mobility Paradise, a one-stop shop for mobility scooters, electric scooters, electric wheelchairs, wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, lift chairs, saunas, steam showers, massage tables, exercise equipment, electric bikes, massage chairs, and bathtubs. Years ago, Trevor’s grandma had an accident that made her dependent on a wheelchair; this forced Trevor and his family to put her into an elderly care facility. Since then, Trevor would visit her to take a walk around the neighborhood. Mobility Paradise was created because Trevor couldn’t find an online store that offers a wide selection of mobility equipment and educational resources. What started as a business focusing on mobility scooters grew to include all kinds of mobility products. You can shop for the most reliable mobility products at Mobility Paradise.


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