With everything we do for our elderly patients, it can be easy to forget basic safety tips that we can encourage our patients and their other caregivers to do to keep them safe and promote faster recovery.
Here are some of the most important things to remind our patients and their families about wheelchair safety tips for seniors:
- Perform regular safety checks: Wheels on wheelchairs get a lot of use so it’s important to make sure they are well maintained. Flat tires or ones that have lost their grip will be harder for the patient to use and may lead to additional strain or injury to their body. Also, ensure it’s cleaned regularly.
- Encourage using wheel brakes: It’s always important to ensure the patient is locking the wheels when on or near an incline, or when getting in and out of the chair. It’s easy for the chair to slip and cause the patient to fall.
- Teach safe driving: Wheelchairs have obvious limitations and it’s important to remind our “extra determined” patients not to use them in an unsafe manner. Remind them not to carry wheelchairs upstairs or take them on escalators. For manual wheelchairs, add a small bike bell so the patient can signal when they are approaching a crowd. For those in electric wheelchairs, ensure they don’t drive too fast. Encourage them to cross the street at driveways or street corners and not over the curb.
- Don’t carry heavy loads: Most manual wheelchairs are not equipped or balanced to carry heavy loads beyond a small purse or backpack as it can affect the chair’s center of gravity making it more susceptible to tipping. Have a caregiver or aid assist in carrying extra loads.
Don’t forget to ensure you provide proper training and safety instructions to both the patient and their family before releasing them from your care. This will help them avoid any further accidents or injury and encourage faster healing and recovery.
You can also recommend wheelchair cushions and accessories to make their wheelchair more comfortable.