What to know Before You Buy Mobility Equipment…and After
“A loved one’s mobility is very personal-find someone who makes it personal for you”
Tina Pressley, CEO, Mobility City Upstate South Carolina
At some point in our lives we will all find it difficult to get around. Some people find themselves with limited mobility due to car accidents, random accidents, or aging. According to DHEC 4.5 million Americans rely on some level of mobility equipment on a daily basis and approximately 425,000 live in the Greenville/Spartanburg area.
Mobility devices have long been a source of confusion and stress in deciding what to buy. To help ease the stress of shopping, here are a few questions to consider before you invest in your mobility equipment. Always do your research and talk with users, trusted advisors. A loved one’s mobility is very personal so find someone who makes it personal for you.
Things to consider before you buy a walking cane, walker, rollator, wheelchair, power wheelchair or mobility scooter:
- How long do you need the equipment? If you need equipment for a short period of time due to surgery or an untimely break, consider renting for a month or two. If you will need the equipment longer than two months you may be better off purchasing something new.
- Know your budget. Most mobility equipment prices have come down to where you can find what you need in a price you can afford. There are even finance options. Be sure to ask if you need assistance.
- Make it fit you.As always, you want your equipment to fit you. (If you are shopping for someone else know their height and weight.) The only way to really fit the person to the equipment is to have an “in person comfort test.” Go and “test-drive” the equipment before you buy. Some companies will even bring the equipment to you to try out if you can’t get to them.
- Make comfort priority. It’s important to check the maximum weight capacity before purchase, to be sure you can use your equipment comfortably.
- What is the terrain like where you will drive?Some mobility equipment is only suitable for indoor use, while others can be used on sidewalks, grass, and roads.
- Transportability—Is it easy to transport?Look at the features and talk with a trusted advisor about ease of use. Can you load and unload the device yourself or will you need help? For example, some mobility scooters are airline friendly while others require special lifts just to go to the store.
- Does the equipment have good safety features?The three most important safety features to look for are sturdy wheels for stability, easy to use locking brakes, and if it the device is motorized-is the controller easy to use.
- When you invest in mobility equipment you want to put in a plan to maintain your investment and keep it in good working condition. Keeping your equipment well maintained may help reduce falls, improve skin integrity, and reduce infection.
- If you are considering used equipment, consider getting a trusted advisor to give you a pre-purchase inspection which could save you money in the long run on costly repairs or equipment failure.
- Remember to clean your equipment regularly (once a month) or schedule maintenance with a local company. Steam cleaning kills 99.9% of bacteria such as staph, e-coli, salmonella, mold and germs. Steam is also very hypoallergenic and will not leave any residue for sensitive skin like other chemical based cleaners.
There is no doubt, mobility equipment is your friend and will be with you for a long time. And just like a friendship: nurture it, love it, and take it out on the town from time to time, and you will see you are able to live an abundant life and not miss out on the fun! A loved one’s mobility is very personal so find someone who makes it personal for you.
(Once you own your equipment, keep this safety checklist in mind and preform it regularly.)
- Visually check your equipment. Look for cracks, loose screws, missing parts. No problem is too small, aesthetic issues can lead to real issues.
- Check brakes: are they working properly.
- Check footrests: are they working properly,
- Check arm pads and upholstery: broken-arm pads and ripped upholstery which grabs fragile skin and may cause cuts.
- Check wheels: are they worn, wobbly, or have chips out of them
- Check end caps and handles: Are there any worn or missing rubber or plastic parts