The rate at which our body produces new healthy cells becomes lower as we grow old; as cellular degeneration increases, numerous complications arise – including mobility. Senior citizens require assistance to navigate around their own homes and when outdoors, which often requires dedicated assistance that can be time-consuming and/or costly for their family members.
However, some medical insurance covers this critical stage of life – many elderly individuals and their families are asking: does Medicare pay for a walker in the US? Thankfully, Medicare Part B does provide coverage for walkers. Keep reading to discover which mobility aid is most suitable for your specific requirements.
Why are mobility aids so vital?
The primary purpose of mobility aids is to assist the elderly or those with disabilities to freely move around. Problems with mobility can lead to serious physical complications and accidents. At least 300,000 senior citizens are sent to the hospital due to hip fractures – these all stem from the root problem of immobility.
Once various complications start, they are difficult to reverse and treat. As previously mentioned, the ability of the body to regenerate cells and recover from injuries degrades as we age. However, this can be mitigated or prevented for us or our family members by taking precautions ahead of time.
Identifying the optimal mobility aids
The appropriateness of each mobility aid differs depending on the specific medical condition involved. However, assessing which aid is most appropriate can be challenging, with a wide range of solutions. Each option is case-dependent, with many covered by medical insurance – pertinent influencing factors include the layout of the patient’s home or place of work, their degree of mobility, and which option feels most comfortable and reassuring:
- Walking canes. Doctors typically recommend canes for accidents as they are easy to use and can be found in many drugstores. However, specialized canes with additional features (such as ergonomic handles) are the most expensive and can be acquired through some insurance policies. Canes are popular among elders as they are typically the first aids they receive when their movement begins to decline. Walking canes provide additional stability to stand and move around while accommodating patients to remain relatively independent. Canes are designed with different qualities and materials and can be matched to each set of requirements and styles.
- Walkers. Although canes can be particularly effective, it remains possible to lose balance – particularly on uneven walkways. Walkers are an effective solution that mitigates the risk of this occuring – structurally, walkers are akin to four different canes supported by a rigid frame. The base of the walker typically comes with wheels or rubber tips. These provide mobility and grip for those requiring extra support and are the most typically used mobility aids for seniors. However, walkers have a negative association among many of the elderly. Regardless, walkers can prevent severe injuries and accidents in senior citizens who have lost strength in their legs.
- Wheelchairs. Seniors with very limited mobility can move around much more easily with the help of a wheelchair. Chairs are equally beneficial for paraplegics and old people; however, the most basic options require someone to move the wheelchair. However, more advanced insurance plans increasingly cover electric wheelchairs that allow for less dependency on others. These can be controlled with a remote attached to the handles of the chair for easy access.
- Additional options. More expensive possibilities for immobile citizens include rollators (for those with severe stability issues and poor upper body strength) and power scooters (for those who cannot walk considerable distances but have some upper body strength). Although less typical, these options are often covered at least partially by insurance plans and can be signficantly beneficial investments.
Mobility support within the home
In addition to mobility aids, it is highly beneficial to adapt one’s home to provide extra support – particularly when living alone. This can make achieving daily tasks at home more streamlined and builds confidence. The following aids are available for purchase or on insurance:
- Railings for stairs, halls and bathrooms
- Seats and benches for showers and bathtubs
- Supportive seat cushions for various rooms
- Grab handles for cars, beds, couches and chairs
- Rolling tables for over beds or couches
- Voice-controlled lighting
- Anti-slip floor coverings
- Stairlifts and ramps
There are several viable options for mobility aids for seniors, alongside multiple home fittings that can make life smoother and more pleasurable for the elderly and physically-challenged individuals. As assessed in this article, the appropriateness of each aid is dependent on the requirements of the patient or senior citizen. Ultimately, it is recommended to fully evaluate the optimal mobility aid for each case and then enquire if that option is covered by medical insurance.
Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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