There are a large number of mobility aids available to help you, including walking sticks and walkers that may help you get around in the home. Even well-placed handrails around the walls can assist greatly.
Wheelchairs are often most helpful outside of the home, for covering longer distances and for crossing rougher terrain. Look upon this as a way of taking back some freedom of movement out and about, rather than any sort of failure on your part.
Understandably many people are reluctant to use a wheelchair, feeling that they are ‘giving up’. The flipside to a wheelchair is that it has many positive benefits, not least that it can help you get out and about and feel more mobile. And you might feel safer, and be in less pain, sitting in a nice comfortable wheelchair.
Wheelchairs are available through the NHS (not social services), but you will need to be assessed by an OT or a physiotherapist, either at your home, in hospital or at your local NHS wheelchair service.
You will be helped to decide on the right chair for you by the wheelchair service. If you need a more expensive chair than is on offer, and the therapist agrees, you may be able to get a voucher to pay the difference (only available in England).
Budget issues often mean you will be offered the cheapest wheelchair suitable, but the assessors should take into consideration all circumstances. For example if the user or the ‘carer’ also has weakness and so difficulty lifting a heavier chair into the car, and/or the user also has weakness in the arms and thus weight would affect independent use, then a lighter one should be considered.
Mobility scooters are an excellent option if you can’t propel a wheelchair, but will have to be self-funded. There are many makes out there, many of which come apart into pieces, to allow them to be loaded into a car boot. Many can be purchased cheaply on the internet, but we would recommend you doing a considerable amount of research in local shops and mobility stores to find the scooter you are most happy with – then and only then, can you go back to the internet and purchase online.
And don’t forget the excellent Shopmobility scheme which operates in a vast number of shopping centres and towns around the UK. You will probably know where they are, or you can find your nearest one through Yell.com. Through Shopmobility, you can borrow a scooter or a wheelchair for the duration of your shopping spree, and do that shopping in style and comfort!