Keeping your loved ones safe is always a top priority. If you have an elderly family member who uses a wheelchair, there are some essential safety tips to keep in mind.
This article will cover how to keep the elderly from falling out of wheelchairs.
Tips on How To Keep the Elderly From Falling Out of a Wheelchair
Here is how to keep the elderly from falling out of a wheelchair:
1. Use a Wedge Cushion
Not only is a wedge cushion a good choice to prevent slipping in a wheelchair, but it can give extra comfort to the individual sitting.
By positioning the thick end of the cushion beneath the knees, the person in the chair has improved posture.
This not only prevents them from slipping down, but it lowers pressure on the spine, which can help with everything from breathing to hip positioning.
A wedge cushion won’t distribute pressure the same way a flat cushion will, but it does a better job of preventing falls and slips.
2. Use a Lap Tray
If the person using the wheelchair can sit up relatively well on their own, you may want to consider using a lap tray. This tray goes across the person’s lap and is generally padded for comfort.
They can use it for eating, doing crafts, or even to provide a flat surface for a laptop or book.
The tray will help to keep the person from falling forward out of the chair and can provide a bit of extra stability. It’s important to bear in mind that a lap tray is not a strap, belt, or restraint.
3. What About Strap Belts?
When used properly, straps can be effective.
However, it’s very easy to misuse a strap by not being in the correct position, or by not positioning the strap itself well.
A strap increases the risk of strangulation should the individual in the wheelchair slip, even slightly, so most do not recommend using them.
4. Consider a Reclining Wheelchair
If the person using the wheelchair is at risk of falling out when sitting up, you may want to consider a reclining wheelchair.
These chairs allow the person to recline back slightly, so they are not sitting upright, which can provide more stability and prevent the person from falling out of the chair.
Not only will these chairs give an added layer of security, but they can also be more comfortable for the person using them.
If the person can recline, this weight shift can take some of the pressure off their back and make it easier for them to breathe, which alone can help avoid consistent movement to get comfortable, which may be unsafe.
5. Check the Wheels
Be sure to check the wheels on the wheelchair regularly. The brakes should be in good working condition, and the wheels should be free of any debris that could cause them to stop working correctly.
It is also essential to ensure you properly inflate the wheels, as this can affect how easily the chair tips over.
Well-cared wheels and brakes mean a senior is less likely to experience a slip while in a wheelchair.
6. Get a Pommel Cushion to Prevent Sliding Out
There are extra padding cushions that sit between the person’s legs to help keep them from falling to the side or slipping out forward.
A pommel cushion, like a wedge cushion, can be used to prevent sliding.
A well-designed cushion will give a proper flat seat that aids with posture and stabilization simultaneously.
It will provide sacral pressure relief, and not slip out of place when the wheelchair is engaged.
7. Use No Slips Pads and Cushions
There are also non-slip pads you can purchase that can be placed on any chair to help keep the person from slipping around.
These are especially helpful if the person is likely to slide or if they will use the chair in a wet environment.
Some pads give the added benefit of helping relieve pressure on a senior’s hips and spine.
Such cushions can also prevent skin ulcers from developing, which can otherwise be a very real possibility for those who sit for extended periods of time.
8. Follow The Instructions
Be sure to follow the instructions that come with the wheelchair. If there are weight limits or other restrictions, adhere to them. It is also essential to ensure that you are using the wheelchair properly.
For example, some wheelchairs need a lever to be engaged for the chair to recline. If you do not do this, the person using the chair could easily fall out.
Following the instructions that come with the wheelchair can help to avoid any accidents, for example, when pushing a wheelchair up or down a ramp.
9. Help the Person as Much as Possible
If the person can do things on their own, great! But if they need help, be sure to provide it as much as you can.
Make sure that someone is around to help, including helping them move from their bed to the wheelchair, get in and out of the chair, or even just help them reach something they need.
The more help you can provide, the less likely the person will have to move around and reach for things in their wheelchair, which could lead to them tipping over.
10. Spread Education on Wheelchair Safety Tips
One of the best ways to keep people safe in a wheelchair is to educate them and those around them on staying safe. You can read more on this Wheelchair safety and etiquette publication.
If you are responsible for someone in a wheelchair, share these tips with other family members and caregivers.
You should also ensure that anyone who may need to use a wheelchair in an emergency knows how to do so safely.
If you are in a wheelchair, share these tips with others who may not know how to use one safely. You can also reach out to organizations that focus on wheelchair safety to help spread the word about how to keep people safe.
Make the Home Safe for a Wheelchair Use to Reduce Falls
And lastly, one way to reduce the chances of falling from a wheelchair is to ensure the environment is suitable for wheelchairs.
Here are some of our articles on that.
The flooring you install in your home affects how safely you can move in a wheelchair. This article highlights what is the best flooring for wheelchairs and what flooring options to avoid.
Do you know how wide doorways need to be for wheelchair users to pass through them without difficulty?
This article discusses how wide wheelchairs are and how they fit through doors safely.
The Bottom Line
Considering how to keep the elderly from falling out of wheelchairs is essential for their safety. Some simple precautions can help keep the person in the wheelchair safe from falling out.
Be sure to talk to a professional about how to best keep the person secure in their chair and make any necessary adjustments to ensure their safety.
Wheelchair comfort is also an essential factor in keeping your loved one safe. Fortunately, there are ways to improve the comfort level of any wheelchair. We have another piece of article that covers how to make a wheelchair more comfortable.
And if you are worried about keeping warm when using a wheelchair, you can read our tips by clicking here.