Mobility Aids - Independence & Connection In Retirement
Australians are fortunate to enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in the world, with both men and women living 25 years longer compared to a century ago.
Mobility aids such as scooters, wheelchairs and wheelchair accessible vehicles are now commonplace among older Australians, increasing independence and improving quality of life with loved ones, both inside and outside the home.
Mobility aids can be as complex as a wheelchair access car or as simple as a walking stick, with a large range of devices and technologies to assist in almost every aspect of life.
Accepting mobility aids into your life
The decision to start using a mobility device is a challenging junction in anyone’s life.
The reality is that mobility aids are used by people of all ages, and they enhance the quality of life by improving independent movement, safety and social connectedness.
Mobility impairment can range from someone who suffers from dizziness or low stamina to total paralysis.
Enjoying the freedom to go about your day with minimal assistance, and being able to meet and socialise with friends and family, are key elements to general wellbeing and mental health.
Wheelchair accessible vehicles:
A wheelchair accessible vehicle allows you to drive from your wheelchair so you can travel at your convenience. This type of car has an electric ramp that lowers from the car's rear, which allows a wheelchair to roll directly into the driver's seat, where a mechanism locks the wheelchair into place.
There are different types of wheelchair access vehicles for sale. Some are modified versions of regular cars, and others are purpose-built for wheelchair access.
To drive a wheelchair accessible vehicle, people need to have control of their upper body and the ability to steer and control a car with their hands.
Wheelchair accessible vehicle modifications can be expensive and are not available for all types of vehicles. Consult a specialist dealer for more information, or if you are not ready to buy or modify a vehicle, consider trialling a wheelchair access hire car.
Mobility scooters come in a wide range of sizes, speeds and price points and are commonly used by people who can still walk short distances and have full upper-body mobility.
Key factors to be considered if you are thinking of purchasing a mobility scooter are:
- Common journey terrain and distances - what type of journeys are you likely to undertake on your scooter? Is the terrain to your main destinations flat or hilly? What is the furthest destination you want to access? Larger scooters with improved battery capacity and shock absorption may be required for longer journeys
- Ease of manoeuvrability - mobility scooters with 3 wheels have a tighter turning circle than 4 wheel mobility scooters, which can be important inside supermarkets and shopping centres
- Bodyweight and size - all mobility scooters have maximum weight capacities that need to be considered, and different models will be more suitable for taller people
- Budget and comfort - there are a wide range of models to suit different budgets and comfort requirements.
Mobility walkers come in a variety of forms and formats, to suit your specific needs. They provide support for walking, storage and even a place to sit and rest when you are out meeting friends or shopping.
Common walker types include:
- Walking frames - without wheels, 2 wheels, 4 wheels
- Walking frames - with and without baskets or storage
- Forearm walkers - without wheels, 2 wheels, 4 wheels - which allow the upper body to be supported by the forearms, for those people with weak wrists
Walking sticks are ideal for people who are semi-confident with their walking and balance.
Common walking stick types include:
- Walking sticks - traditional in aluminium or wood,
- Walking sticks - adjustable height, foldable or with a moulded handle, etc.
- Walking sticks - quad foot base
Household renovations for mobility
Investing in renovations to be safe and independent in your own home is essential for ageing in place.
Key renovation and accessibility options to assist with mobility at home include:
- Ramps - installing a ramp to ensure safe access in and out of your home
- Kitchen modifications - lower benchtops if using a wheelchair, under bench storage
- Wheelchair lift - if you have a two-storey home
- Grab bars - install grab bars in the bathroom and toilet
- Shower commodes, shower chairs
- Bath lifts, non-slip surfaces in wet areas, non-slip bath mats
People in wheelchairs may need to renovate their bathroom to include a specialised shower with a ramp and wider shower entry.
Seek professional advice
Discuss your mobility aid needs with a professional, such as an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or your local doctor, to ensure you find the right solution for your current and future needs.
Funding for mobility aids and assessments by occupational therapists are available from several sources, including:
- The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
- The Transport Accident Commission (TAC)
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)
Unfortunately, with government funding options there can be long wait times to talk to the right person, as well as long waiting lists. Most government funding options have eligibility criteria.
If you own your own home and are 60 years of age or older, you may qualify for a Household Loan with Household Capital. A Household Loan can assist with funding large and small purchases or projects - from a wheelchair assisted vehicle or household renovations to smaller mobility or independence requirements.
Household Capital specialises in providing Australian retirees with access to home equity, to improve their long term retirement funding.
If you’re wondering how home equity could improve your retirement funding, see how much equity you could access with our free to use equity calculator.
Our Household Loan allows you to live in the home you love while enjoying the lifestyle you deserve.
If you’re wondering how home equity could improve your retirement funding,see how much equity you could access with our free to use equity calculator.
Applications for credit are subject to eligibility and lending criteria. Fees and charges are payable and terms and conditions apply (available on request). Household Capital Pty Limited is a credit representative (512757) of Mortgage Direct Pty Limited ACN 075 721 434. Australian Credit Licence 391876.
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