Tuesday, December 13, 2011

winter wheelchair tips for caregivers 2011

In a wheelchair Patti does not generate thesame body heat as a walking person. Cognitive impairment only adds to risk whenoutdoors in any weather.

Speculating on how fast it takes forhypothermia to set in is a fools’ question. … Prepare!

While winter embraces all, it does demandcaregiver / carer respect. Our story is about Multiple Sclerosis however winterweather does not discriminate over diagnosis.
Lower body for a non-ambulatory person is mostvulnerable. Last winter was a benchmark when we received a gift of a buggy bag® wheelchair lap blanket. All the time and stuff involved such as layers ofsocks, leg warmers, boots, and blankets disappeared. It’s almost like the BC /AD line in our history of winter living with MS. Not only did it quickly becomea winter mainstay but its all-weather features have made it all year rain gear.

It’s easy to say “wear several layers ofloose-fitting clothing”. However when someone is unable to dress themselvesthis can get beyond interesting. A sense of humor is most helpful. 

For outerwear we depend upon a hooded woolzippered cape. Capes are easier for getting on and off when assisting someonein a wheelchair and a zippered cape simply increases options. Hoods are easy toflip up or down, cover everything except the face and are always attached.While wool is ‘old school’ it still has the unique ability to provide warmtheven when it is wet.

While a hat and scarf are often recommended Ihave concerns about mixing scarves and wheelchairs, though I have learned ofthe ‘infinity scarf’ for those wanting style without the ends that could catchin wheels. Hats work OK but are easily misplaced and can create some serious ‘electrichair’ styles.

Mittens ‘rock’! Rather than struggle to fit herfingers into gloves Patti just slides her hands into warmth.

Most importantly remember your carer /caregiver self especially your foot wear on snow or ice-covered sidewalks, ramps,driveways, etc. Fashion is arbitrary, falling is unacceptable.

Being prepared separates ‘disability forced hibernation’from enjoying winter to its fullest!

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer