There is a startling trend throughout North America to place elderly patients in wheelchairs at the first signs of severe osteoporosis. Perhaps this is due to liability related reasons, but nursing homes throughout the country have opted for the wheelchair well before the walking cane.
Although a wealth of evidence doesn’t support this trend. Assisted walkers allows elderly people to maintain and develop muscle tone, balance and keep confident in their ability to walk. The transition from being fully capable and in control of one’s physical movements to complete dependance on a wheelchair is a quick and unfortunately irreversible path.
Mito Action Advocacy group talked about it in a recent Q/A session…
“The decision to use a wheelchair for mobility can be one of the most difficult milestones faced by adults with Mito and other progressive neuromuscular diseases. In many cases, the individual has been experiencing difficulty getting around for quite some time. Mobility devices, such as canes, walkers and wheelchairs frequently mark the transformation from “invisible” to “visible” illness or disability. Many people with Mito or other neuromuscular diseases experience fluctuations in strength, endurance and balance. Many young adults with Mito use a cane at the beginning of the week and rely on a wheelchair by Friday. They rest and rebuild strength over the weekend, and be able to go back to using a cane at the start of the next week.”
Perhaps the biggest dynamic that people need to consider is the social element of wheelchairs vs walkers. Walkers allows elderly people to experience a life that isn’t subject to judgement or otherwise overly curious people. Wheelchairs elicit a certain about of sympathy and of course – embarassement for some elderly people.
A life of independence turned into total dependance on a wheelchair robs people of their confidence and self-autonomy. Some elderly people are upset by reactions of other people who now see them as an person who requires more care.
We spoke with www.UpliftingMobility.com, a US-based company that reviews and promotes assistance walking devices and they share their insights with us.
“A lack of mobility doesn’t need to stop you from living a fulfilled life. When going to a physical therapist or doctor, they will often recommend a few different mobility aides that can help you remain mobile while aiding in your overall balance.
The most common mobility aides include: 4 wheeled walkers, Non-wheeled walker frame, Traditional canes, Forearm canes, or crutches in some circumstances. But there is a lesser known option: the three wheel walker or three wheel rollator.”
We want to know what you think – what is the best way to balance both comfort and safety in elderly patients.