I’m very frustrated with wheelchairs. It seems I’m always getting one that only works for us for a little while until needs change and then, we’ll, here we go again! Caregiving is a a learning experience and can be draining on the pocketbook. Since my husband’s doctor isn’t helpful (!), let me tell you what I’m dealing with this time and see if you have any advice from your shared experiences.
Hubby can’t stand or bear weight, but can scoot with assistance from a bed to wheelchair. However, unless all four wheel lock, the wheelchair tends to be pushed out of place away from the bed in the process and has resulted in falls. Unless someone is there to hold it, this is too dangerous. (Someone else is around 3 days a week and on call nearby every night.)
Thanks to a friend who knew a friend, we received a used electric wheelchair. It is heavy and doesn’t accidentally move while scooting into the seat. (Whew!) However, the design is strange, and it has a metal joint on each side of the seat where the leg and foot platform connects (the legs raise as one unit). My poor husband has gotten stuck several times mid-scoot with one leg on each side of that stupid metal joint. This has become a serious issue now that his strength is decreasing.
yesterday, the electric wheelchair started malfunctioning. On Monday, I’ll get it assessed... hence my request for advice before I have to decide if it’s worth fixing it or get another one.
Additional considerations: narrow doorway to bathroom is 27 inches wide. He has low vision and weakness, so he cannot wheel himself in a manual one and he cannot drive himself in an electric one. It’s all me... or if we have a helper that day. We have one ramp that takes some effort to push him up, but I can do it.
At this point, I also think we need a wheelchair that reclines. He is so often laying down that now when we go out, he is miserable constantly sitting up in the wheelchair.
Ideal resolution (I think): electric wheelchair that is narrow and reclines.
Why? Heavy and won’t slide, gives him relief from sitting, easy for me to get him around. But... expensive.
Less expensive option: manual reclining wheelchair from Amazon. Has high reviews, costs $300, and delivered in 3 days to the door. It would work if only I had some way to lock the front little wheels to prevent them from sliding!
I called a medical supply store to ask about funding. The rep advised that Medicare is very strict about who gets an electric wheelchair and it would take a long time to get one if he qualifies because there is a backlog. She had 50 applications waiting on her desk. She advised us to go to a seating clinic first. She had no idea I’ve been trying to get him to the VA clinic for months. For one reason or another, it hasn’t happened. (We often have to cancel appointments).
Assuming we won’t be going there in the next few weeks, I would be grateful for your advice:
- Is there a way to prevent the wheels of a manual wheelchair from moving while transferring?
- Is it worth getting an electric wheelchair if his strength decreases to where he can’t
transfer on his own anymore? Would a manual one be a better investment?
- Has anyone had a reclining wheelchair? Any thoughts on this?
Thank you, in advance!