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My mom has dementia and her mobility is really declining. I'm interested in an electric wheelchair but not sure if she can maneuver it. Anyone have a similar situation and was your family member able to use it. Also, any leads on places to rent to try it out? Thanks.

My hubby has an electric wheelchair. However, it is harder to move around tight corners and doorways even though we got one with the narrowest width, and even though the halls and doorways meet construction code. He likes it, as his arms don't get tired as they do with the wheel-turn chair. We got it so he could get outside and explore the neighborhood a bit. They get about 14 miles on a single electric charge.
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Reply to sometimer
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Let me put it this way....My husband has MS, COPD and dementia with alzheimers. His first electric wheel chair was named "Ralph the Wrecker" My home bears many, many scars from being slammed into. The bathroom door was torn off its hinges, several kitchen cabinet doors landed on the floor - "racing stripes" on any wall he comes into contact with, large chunks of plaster off most corners. We are now on electric wheel chair #2. Much more complicated to run. Still hitting things - judging the width is a major problem for him. Backing up- who knows where the rear wheels are going.
Would I recommend an electric chair for a dementia patient? Walls, doors and cabinets can be repaired, his chance at semi- independence for another year or two can't.
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Reply to janny02
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My mother, who now has advanced dementia, could not learn how to use a walker. Eventually she "forgot" how to walk and kept falling when she tried to get out of bed. She now has to be put in a wheelchair or 'geri' chair to be moved around. Geri chairs are comfortable chairs that can recline with the legs up. If your mother has dementia, she may not be able to learn how to use an electric wheelchair. Sometimes the most difficult part is getting from the bed to the wheel chair. Aides have to help my mother do this. Are you the caregiver for your mother? Are you able to assist her into a wheelchair? Once she's in a wheel chair she may be able to propel herself with her feet. Is there a social worker or case worker who can advise you and help with suggestions on what options are available for your mother?
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Reply to NancyIS
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I have an electric wheelchair but I am 100% functioning - my spine keeps me from walking. My original one was perfect and I loved it but it wore out. Now I have a new one and hate it. The stick which controls the speed is so sensitive that I live in constant fear of losing control. If she has dementia, DO NOT GET AN ELECTRIC WHEELCHAIR - IT COULD BECOME DEADLY TO HER AND OTHERS. Have a wheelchair and someone to wheel her if she can't wheel herself.
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Reply to Riley2166
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Itsajourney: Imho, an electric wheelchair is not a good idea for someone with dementia such as your mother.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Definitely not.

We have an electric wheelchair and it takes skill and concentration to handle one. I have to be with her at all times.

If you get her one you will not only be putting her in danger but also those around her.

I have heard from so many that work in stores that they are constantly getting hit by these and some get hurt bad.
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Reply to Christservant
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I haven’t read all of the responses, sorry. I just want to mention that the electric wheelchairs are very very responsive to even the slightest touch of the joystick. The technician set it to the lowest setting, but my papa was still running in to walls and having a terrible time. There’s definitely a learning curve.
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Reply to BeckyT
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In answer to your second question. Superior Conversions on North College should be able to help you. Your first question would depend on a lot of things from the wheel chair through your mom. If your home is not set up for a power chair, you are in trouble and I would not recommend one. For the outside, I would think someone would always be there for guidance and also there is more than getting a chair, you have to have the means to transport it. Good Luck.
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Reply to JWB1943
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JUst to add to this--my mom really, really wants her 2nd hip replaced. It's really fine, just 91 yo and hurts. The drs she's seen send her packing--they all 3 told her that she will wind up wheelchair bound, at her age she will not rehab from such a surgery.

She KNOWS that moving to a wheelchair in her tiny apartment is the end of living semi-independently---YB said the day she can no longer walk she will have to move to a NH. He's not being mean--it just simply would NOT work. And he has no intentions of turning his living room into mom's 'world' which is the only way we could make that work for her. I know a lot of people do, in fact do that, but there are limits to what the family can accomadate.
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Reply to Midkid58
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Speaking from my own experience, with my own mother, she could never use an electric wheelchair (except 'maybe' outside, but with a solid chain attached to something very secure) because she never, ever pays attention to anything in the present. She would have it ramming into everything, including the walls, tables, stands.. I bet there would be thousands of dollar in damages within 1 hour.
Even outside, I'd lay money that she'd wind up headed right towards the hillside on the left side of our property (while looking to the side or behind her, talking to someone who wasn't even there) and "wreck" it so she wound up hurt.
Only YOU could determine if it would be a good idea, and if you have hesitations, it must be for a reason.
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Reply to MrMega
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Dexpending on the stage of Dementia rather she can use one or not.

Can she remember the motions to use a regular wheelchair?

Can she still use a cell or landline phone?

Dit's she know how to use the remote for the TV?

Can she use a remote for a recliner to make the chair sit up or recline?

Can she still brush her own teeth?

Id the answer is yes to the above questions, she would be able to remember how to use the electric wheelchair.

So, it really depends on what stage of Dementia she had.

My Dad has very short memory and would not be able to use one.

He is at the stage of always asking what do I do now.

He can still eat and drink by himself but now only if the texture of the food is soft and or mashed like Yogurt, Applesauce, Shakes,
Mashes potatoes ect
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Reply to bevthegreat
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Given her dementia, an electric wheelchair is probably not a good idea. A regular wheelchair would be safer. If she is not strong enough to move herself in a standard wheelchair, she will have to rely on others to push her from place to place. You may be hoping to equip her with something that helps her mobility without needing you or someone else to assist, but that may not be possible. Does your mother live with you? Care taking responsibilities increase significantly as time goes on. You may be coming to a stage where your mom needs more hands-on daily attention and help.
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Reply to RedVanAnnie
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My mom used an electric wheelchair for many years. She lived in an independent living situation, and when the arthritis in her knees got too bad, she used the wheelchair do drive around the campus. The first signs of dementia may have been when she started using the wheelchair around her apartment instead of getting physical therapy as the doctor suggested. That caused her to lose her ability to walk.
As her dementia progressed, my mom's driving got worse. She began bumping into walls and having difficulties with turns. I began worrying that she would run into another resident and hurt them. Fortunately, just as I was about to take the wheelchair away from her, the Covid-19 lockdown started, and she didn't get close enough to the other residents to cause harm. I stayed with her during the lockdown, and once, while we were taking our walk around the grounds, she clipped my ankle and I fell down. Since she was worried about me, she leaned forward with her hand on the joystick, causing the wheelchair to try to go towards me. It didn't hurt or run over me, but I couldn't get my foot out. I panicked and started yelling, "STOP IT! STOP IT!" which my mom didn't understand, because she didn't realize she was pushing the joystick. Eventually, she took her hand off the joystick, and I was able to get up. Surprisingly, I only had a little bruise. It was funny in retrospect, but I certainly learned to stay out of range of the wheelchair.
Her ability to drive got worse and worse. Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night took minutes to drive sloooooly down the hall to the bathroom, endless maneuvering to get it in just the right position to transfer to the toilet, then the same routine to get back to bed. Eventually my mom forgot how to drive the wheelchair completely. One day she wanted to get in her "car" and drive down to the drugstore, but she couldn't figure out how to drive it. I called the wheelchair company and had them come get it.
If you want to pursue this, talk to your mom's doctor, and get a physical therapy evaluation with a wheelchair provider. They can determine if your mom can safely use the wheelchair, and recommend one that is the correct size. With this, insurance or Medicare will pay for it, but the process can take months.
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Reply to Cynthiasdaughtr
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Cynthiasdaughtr Aug 8, 2021
Also, remember that people who do not walk, loose more and more strength in their legs, and if they do not get physical therapy, their legs will contract so they can't straighten their knees.
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Think that would be dangerous … and dementia only gets worse !
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Reply to Helenn
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Honestly I would not go that route. My dad has all of his mental capacity but some times the scooter is sensitive. I call him a bull in a china shop when we used to dine in restaurants. He still uses it to roam the neighborhood and stop by our house. But for the doctors we use a wheelchair. I. The electric scooter you have to be like a car 360 degree aware of your surroundings. On a cruise I had a middle aged lady at the buffet decide she wanted to back up. Without looking and full gear she was practically on my toes before a cruise staff jumped between us. I had a plate of food that would of dumped on me or her. Luckily no one was hurt.
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Reply to KaleyBug
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I guarantee that Medicare will not pay for it because your doctor will not approve of it.
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Reply to Ricky6
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Does your mom use a walker? If not, then that would be the next step.

If you do decide to get her a scooter or electric wheelchair, I can guarantee you that you will find used ones in your local area. But they are not simple to operate and for someone with dementia, I would think that you would have reteach how to use it daily, if not hourly.
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Reply to graygrammie
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Someone who may not be able to remember how to operate it in all directions is very likely to get the chair and patient stuck in a tight situation. Notorious for tearing up walls, doors, furniture. They are extremely heavy.

you might start with a small transport wheelchair and let her sit, use her legs to walk around. will work good on tile floors, not so good on carpets. Same for the large wheeled wheel chairs.
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Reply to my2cents
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I'd be super cautious about allowing this much 'movement' by an elder who cannot fathom how to drive one of these. My mom used to take the grocery store carts and spent much of her time ramming into things. Ankles seemed to be her favorite. She had no sense of space or distance, that's one reason she had to stop driving some years ago.

I am currently re-habbing from ankle surgery and I have a scooter. It's useful and safer than crutches, but I have to say that after I am done with this thing, I will have to have ALL my doors and doorways re-finished. I've been super careful but still cannot seem to manage the tricky manuvers it requires to 'turn'. Our house is pretty small and the hallways are tight. DH has seen for himself that we do, in fact, need to size DOWN, but with wider halls and such. A wheelchair in our house? Useless, since they can't fit through doorways.
I honestly have never seen a positive result from having a patient move to an electric wheelchair-unless they stay in one big room and don't attempt to move about a lot. Also, a LOT of muscle mass is lost when all that is being 'used' is one hand.

Check Craigslist or some local seller and see if you can get one for less than buying one. Then try it out. My dad spent ONE DAY with an electric wheelchair and hated it so much he refused to ever get in it again.
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Reply to Midkid58
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I have seen some horrendous out of control electric wheelchair / scooter accidents And this is from people that did not have dementia. . And I guess an electric wheelchair would not be as hazardous as the electric scooters.

I guess I should say it depends on the level of dementia.
If you would let her drive a car then she should be fine with an electric wheelchair.
If you would not let her drive a car do not let her drive an electric wheelchair.
Also keep in mind that even IF she could operate one today there is a good possibility that with the decline of dementia she would not be able to operate one next week.

If you are seriously thinking about this have her assessed by an OT and a PT to determine if she understands how to operate it.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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Ddementia and driving do not mix. So how do you expect the wheelchair will be any better. My mom tried s scooter with moderate dementia. She expected it to work on 2 inches of snow. Get that OT eval with the chair. But wait...you have to get the chair first.

Rremember that there are lots of posts here that state a LO becomes bedridden over time
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Reply to MACinCT
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I believe that everyone reacts differently with dementia or any other medical issues. My best friend is the primary caregiver for her youngest sister who is 51. She has Down’s syndrome and dementia. She refused to walk some time ago. She was capable of walking but simply stopped. She also stopped speaking. At one time she was very high functioning.

Her sister is in a regular wheelchair. She pushes her everywhere. It’s a lot of work. She uses a board to get her out of bed. She has lost all muscle mass.

Can your mom still walk? I really encourage allowing her to walk as long as she can. Once a person stays in a wheelchair for an extended period of time they never walk again.

My mom died this April at age 95. She had Parkinson’s disease and slight dementia. Mom struggled with mobility issues. She used a walker. Her neurologist strongly recommend that she not go into a wheelchair. She walked with her walker until the very last month of her life. She was completely bed bound during her stay in her hospice house.

Everyone reacts individually. My mom did home health and rehab where she received occupational and physical therapy. Have you tried therapy for your mom? A doctor can order it.

Wishing you the best with whatever you decide is best for your mom.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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Does the AL have a Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist? One of those professionals can assess if an electric wheelchair is useful, practical & safe for your Mother.

My relative managed one quite well in rehab (mobility problems due to stroke) from room to dining room etc. But another relative was deemed unable to use safely - due to deficits to eyesight, spacial awareness, also some impulsiveness.

It may work for a time, depending on type of dementia & severity. There will be a benefit to her independence but the risk of injury to herself & others needs to be factored in.

Just curious, has Mother asked for an electric chair?
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Reply to Beatty
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I would think carefully about letting people with dementia operate anything electric. Is your mom able to determine when to go or stop safely? A friend of mine got run into by an older man riding an electric cart at Costco. He might have had dementia, because he didn't even acknowledge or apologize after he ran into her. My friend's foot was mildly injured from the wheel of the electric cart. A child would probably have been knocked over then run over.

I stop letting my mother use the electric carts at the supermarkets once she developed Alzheimer's. She loses control and can not go or stop appropriately.
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Reply to polarbear
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NeedHelpWithMom Aug 4, 2021
Ouch! That had to have hurt.
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At one time I would have been against this idea because once your elder stops walking, they lose even more muscle mass.
I would think that Therapy will be important to keep the ability to transfer as long as possible.
My DH aunt caught onto how to use a walker and then a rollator. She hasn’t been able to use her lift chair control. Still uses her remote. I think it depends on the severity and type of the dementia and the desire.
Perhaps talk to her doctor about it.

https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11046-Medicare-Wheelchair-Scooter.pdf
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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Your profile states that she lives in an assisted living facility. I would start by asking people who reside there or perhaps some of the workers that see the residents on a daily basis. Maybe they can help by reporting if others in the facility have been successful in using a motorized wheelchair.

Check with her doctor what they think of this idea? Renting one is a great idea! You could call places that sell them to see if they know of places that rent them.

I would compare a motorized wheelchair with a motorized scooter. I see a few people that use the scooters at my church. They seem to like them.

Best wishes to you and your mom.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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Itsajourney Aug 4, 2021
Thank you. I have been talking with other residents but they are not to thrilled about loaning it out for a little while. I have called several places. Very few rent and the ones that do are for 3 months at a time at $750.
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