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Family Living Focus: Moving right along

Among the many challenges caregivers encounter, from daily grooming regimes to health and safety strategies, the issue of moving people who can’t safely move themselves is a major concern for all involved, and requires the use and knowledge of proper techniques and equipment, as well as trust.

Thankfully, modern technology has helped to temper the situation for both the loved one, as well as the caregiver, by offering many different options for mobility. Some of these “modern miracles” even allow for independent mobility, giving a bit of freedom back to everyone, along with giving a much-needed boost of self-esteem.

However, new challenges may arise from such modern conveniences which can send the caregiver’s head spinning with questions. It is extremely important to become informed and educated about what equipment is available, the cost of such equipment, or the changes, improvements, and additions that may be needed to your living environment to accommodate particular types of equipment. While it may all seem quite overwhelming, realize that you are taking steps to greatly improve the situation for your loved one, enabling them, with the proper equipment, to continue with the things in life which they enjoy most, like gardening, sports, even returning to work and supporting themselves. Also, remember that the right equipment can make a huge difference in comfort and accessibility.

Mobility equipment can be used either as a permanent means of getting around, or, can be used in the interim, as a way to re-establish a particular skill while helping to further develop other mobility skills, eventually leading to partial or complete recovery of mobility.

There are so many products and accessories on the market, but you must make sure to “match” the equipment to the disability. While mobility equipment is generally the same for most types of disabilities, consider the subtle yet obvious differences which exist with equipment for children and equipment for adults.

Here are just a few of the different devices available to aid in mobility:

• Boards – lying (prone or side) and standing (prone)

• Frames — kneeling and standing (vertical or wheeled)

• Walkers — trainer, swivel and frames (two, three, or four wheels)

• Crutches – axilla (under the arm) and elbow

• Walking Sticks – wooden or metal, crooked-neck handles, right-angled handles, folding and stick seats

• Tripods and Quadrupods — aluminum, steel and elbow cuff (optional)

• Household Carts/Trolleys w/ Wheels – wooden or metal, shelves (one or two) and shopping

• Wheelchairs — steel; aluminum; rigid frame; standard; folding frame; compact; folding frame; self-propelled (standard); electric; lever-propelled (right or left side placement); low-seat; for use with only one arm; foot steering; attendant propelled; for use for those with lower limb amputation; with stand-up mechanism; with tilt-in-space seat unit; with stair climbing facility; reclining backrest; elevating seat; with a commode seat; outdoor-use only; indoor-use only; indoor/outdoor; made-to-measure; use in cars (replaces driver’s seat); class 2 or 3 (for covering long distances)

• Scooters – three or four wheels and speed settings

• Lifts – stairlifts (straight or curved); seated stairlifts; standing stairlifts; perching stairlifts; stairlift w/ wheelchair platform; mobile/portable stairlifts; vertical lifts with or without a shaft; through-floor lifts; short-rise; for use with automobiles.

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Information adapted from article by Jennifer Wilson, Staff Writer in Today’s Caregiver Newsletter, January 7, 2014 — Issue #677.

If you would like more information on “Moving Right Along” contact Gail Gilman, Family Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus University of Minnesota at waldn001@umn.edu. Be sure to watch for more Family Living Focus‚’¢ information in next week’s paper.

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