Power Wheelchairs: When Electric Wheelchairs Are Needed

Power scooters, power wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs - everyone has seen the television commercials promoting wheelchairs for seniors.  Why?  Well, it turns out Medicare will pay for them in some cases but it is very important to understand when it is necessary to have an electric wheelchair and important to understand that just like buying a new car, many details must be present in order for it to be a great fit.  Custom fitting of power wheelchairs from height to weight to managing the controls are a vital part of the process.

Who Needs An Electric Wheelchair?

The use of an electric wheelchair is not limited to seniors. Many people suffering from chronic illnesses such as Fibromyalgia and Multiple Sclerosis find an electric wheelchair necessary for daily activities. This article will offer advice on choosing the best wheelchair and what methods are available for payment.

Choosing the Best Electric Wheelchair

There are several variations of electric wheelchairs that are suitable for any individual based on their physical needs. Wheelchair styles can differ in frame size, seat size, seat height, tire size, and number of wheels. While shopping for an electric wheelchair it is best to test out several chairs and seek a doctor’s opinion. Electric wheelchairs can be customized for better back, neck, and leg support.

Add-ons and Accessories

Electric Wheelchair manufactures now offer several options for customizing a wheelchair. Common accessories include arm rest pouches and organizers, reflectors, seat belts, and seat cushions. Many companies also offer the option to install ramps and chair lifts. Ramps and chair lifts can be installed in homes and vans. Using a ramp or a chair lift saves time and adds an extra level of safety. Unfortunately Medicare does not cover the cost of a ramp or lift.

Cost Coverage

Whether the payment for an electric wheelchair comes out of pocket or is paid by a third party, the cost can add an unnecessary amount of stress. The best option is to plan in advance and know all of the available options.


Under the Social Security Act, Medicare Part B, persons who qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance are eligible for durable medical equipment reimbursement. The equipment must be appropriate for in-home use. Medicare can cover up to 80% of the cost of an electric wheelchair. However, there are specific guidelines for coverage. The physical condition of the patient is the most important in determining coverage. The patient must have a condition that without the use of a wheelchair would cause them to be confined to a bed or chair. They must be unable to operate a manual wheelchair and safely operate an electric one. Documentation from a person’s physician is required. The documentation must support the necessity for an electric wheelchair. A documentation of the patient’s current functional levels and limitations along with a medical diagnosis is essential. Most conditions resulting from a neurological or muscular disease are covered. Once approved, Medicare will determine the patient’s level of coverage, whether it is rental or full purchase price. To assure a quick reimbursement, check the coding of the wheelchair from the salesperson. The coding is used for Medicare reimbursement and must be exact.


Medicaid is offered to families with low-income and varies from state to state. It is usually not suitable for wheelchair coverage. However, Medicaid was established to offer services for children through the age of 21. The Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program requires Medicaid to support the use of wheelchairs for children through age 21. If results of this screen program show that a wheelchair is medically necessary it may be covered by Medicaid for a child. Many states will provide Medicaid services through an HMO or a preferred provider.

Knowing all of the options and resources available is essential to getting the most out of an electric wheelchair. One resource to learn more about electric wheelchairs is All Mobility Scooters, where you can find more advice and articles on wheelchairs and cost coverage.

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Flu Virus: Use Online Tools to Combat Influenza

Caregivers for seniors have the added challenge of making sure they keep themselves healthy, in addition to monitoring the health of the senior they assist as a caregiver.  During the winter months, illnesses spread more easily and it is important to wash hands regularly and to steer clear of those who are ill.

Influenza, better known as "the flu", is a virus which as many as 20% of the population in the U.S.A. contract each winter.  For seniors, flu can be the extra hardship to their immune system which will trigger hospitalization and even death.  Along with pneumonia, the flu can be a virus the immune system cannot combat when there are other health challenges.  Around 20,000 Americans die from flu-related causes each year.

Caregiverlist's health partner, EmpowHER, offers an Influenza Resource Center where caregivers can quickly and easily gain insight to what causes the flu, how to prevent it and where to find flu shots.

Caregivers can also find online caregiver training and take a sampleCertified Nursing Aide test to learn more about safe skills for caregiving.



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Alzheimer's Progression Slowed in Mice with New Vaccine

Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed in more than 1,200 people each day.  Currently there is no cure of the disease although a few medications do slow the progression.  The University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) has announced they have developed a vaccine that is proving to slow progression of memory loss for mice with Alzheimer's disease and other kinds of dementia. The Australian university is already working with pharmaceutical companies in the U.S.A. to develop this new vaccine for humans.

This vaccine targets a protein known as tau and prevents the ongoing formation of neurofibrillary tangles in the brain of a mouse with Alzheimer's disease.  It is the first study to show that the vaccine targeting the tau protein can be effective once the disease has already set in.

Be sure to ask your medical doctor about any clinical trials for medications that you or a senior you are caring for may qualify for, as every medication on the market was first part of a clinical trial study.  Clinical trials also give you access to doctors who are experienced in caring for seniors with diseases in their medical practice's area of specialty.  You may also obtain caregiver training for seniors with memory loss to understand how to best communicate with them as Alzheimer's disease progresses.  You may also enjoy our story about meeting former President Ronald Reagan after he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Senior's with memory loss may need senior care services for ten years or more and by planning ahead to learn about the senior care options in your area, you can better prepare for the financial and care needs.

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Cognitive Therapy for Seniors with Dementia

Memory loss, or dementia, can leave both the senior and family members suffering form loneliness, sadness and the challenges of daily living knowing forgetting will be part of each day.  New therapies are being researched, but integrating art as one therpy has proven to be positive.

Bob Tell, author of Dementia-Diary, A Caregiver's Journal, shares this guest blog post with us.

In March, 2010, I wrote a piece for my blog (http://caregiverchronicle.blogspot.com/) entitled "Can Painting Help Dementia Sufferers?" I was so impressed with this concept that I suggested to the person in charge of art for the library in Boynton Beach, Florida, that, considering the demographics in the area, she consider starting a program like this. Maybe it was budget considerations, but I never heard from her.

Now, along comes Cognitive Dynamics a website devoted to what they call "Bringing Art To Life." In my opinion, they are doing exciting work showing the potential of people with dementia to enjoy an enhanced quality of life and to find ways to express themselves that are not word-dependent.

See their video, "Bringing Art to Life in Beverly Hills" as well as their website and I bet you'll agree with me that they are onto something fabulous. And it's not just art therapy. Their program includes music, drama and poetry therapy as well as art. 

They describe their mission as:"To improve the quality of life of patients with cognitive disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease) and their caregivers through education, research, and support of innovative care models which promote human dignity, especially therapies employing the expressive arts."

So I suggest becoming familiar with the work of Daniel Potts, a Neurologist with a special interest in cognitive enhancement for dementia patients, and Ellen Woodward Potts, Co-author of A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer's Caregiver, Managing Partner at Dementia Dynamics, LLC and instructor at the University of Alabama. These folks are shining a much needed light onto the darkness of our current knowledge of dementia.

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Viral Video: Sweet Elderly Couple Using WebCam for First Time

Caregivers for seniors know the challenges when introducing new schedules, routines and medical equipment.

Enjoy this video, which has become the most viewed YouTube video of the day, of an elderly couple trying to use a Webcam for the first time.




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Caregivers Can Help Seniors with Healthy Aging

September is Healthy Aging Month and while good senior home caregivers take care of important elderly care needs, great senior home caregivers can help their elderly clients or family members live a richer and more healthy life as they age. Healthy aging not only helps the individual, but helps the economy by reducing the burden on the health care system. Here are some tips for healthy aging:

  • Stay active. Try to get some sort of physical exercise (with a doctor’s permission) every day. If you’re not used to physical activity, start slow. Walking is a wonderful way to exercise. Find an activity to enjoy. Perhaps take up a long-neglected hobby.
  • Eat well. Load up on high-fiber fruits, vegetables and whole grains. As much as possible, stay away from processed foods. Remember to stay hydrated.
  • Keep your mind sharp. Board games and puzzles can help keep your brain as active as your body. Take on a new subject, like learning a new language or acquiring computer skills. Take a class. New social connections can also help strengthen the brain.

For a more comprehensive look at healthy aging, read Living Long & Well in the 21st Century, Strategic Directions for Research on Aging, released by the National Institute on Aging.

Find great home caregivers to help with the process of healthy aging in place through a quality senior home care agency.

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Chicken Soup for the Soul Seeking Caregiver Stories

Chicken Soup for the Soul, the book series with motivational and heart-warming stories about life, has expanded to offer customized topics for new books.  The book series next will be publishing a Chicken Soup for the Soul for Caregivers and are seeking story submissions.  Possible future books may be titled:  Boost Your Brain Power, Family Caregiver and Home Sweet Home.

Professional and family caregivers for seniors well know the challenges and fulfillment that comes with the job.  Whether you are caring for a senior with an age-related illness such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's Disease or assisting with activities of daily living, the book series is looking for inspiring and supportive stories.  The stories can appeal to both other caregivers, family members and to seniors receiving the caregiving.

The only requirement is that the person receiving care does require constant, on-going caregiving services.

The deadline to submit stories is July 15th.  You may submit your caregiving story for consideration to Chicken Soup for the Caregiver's Soul (not sure if that will be the title when the editors are finished, but it seems like a good one) here.

Caregivers may also learn about caregiver training and job opportunities in their area.

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CaringBridge Caregiver Comfort Kit Giveaway

Caregivers for family and friends and for seniors sometimes have the challenge of keeping up with all the care issues when the care receiver is in the hospital or a rehab facility.  Caregiverlist recently partnered with CaringBridge, a nonprofit providing free websites to help patients and caregivers stay connected to their family and friends. CaringBridge websites offer a personal and private space to communicate and show support, saving time and emotional energy when health matters most.

How it Works
By following a few simple steps, a personalized website complete with privacy options can be started in just minutes. The author introduces the reason for the CaringBridge site in “My Story” and provides ongoing updates through entries in the “Journal.” Friends and family members can receive automatic updates when journal entries have been made, and can leave messages of love, support and encouragement in the “Guestbook.”

Benefits to Patients and Caregivers
Using CaringBridge to centralize communication during a health challenge saves time and energy and makes it easy for caregivers to keep loved ones updated. Everyone can stay in touch, regardless of time zones and area codes. CaringBridge provides a personal and private space for everyone to express their feelings and offer support.

Many authors also feel the therapeutic benefits of writing down their experience. “I know I said things in the journal I would not have said out loud because I don’t think I would have been able to say them in front of people without totally losing it,” said one CaringBridge author.

Healing Power of Connection
The power of connection and support often extends beyond the psychological to the physical; in a 2010 study of patients using a CaringBridge website to share health news, 91% of patients agreed that it helped make their health journey easier and 88% of patients agreed that it positively impacted their healing process.

“Without CaringBridge, I know that we would not have gone through our experience as well supported,” said a CaringBridge author.

CaringBridge has provided a comfort kit to giveaway to one lucky reader. It includes items like travel-size lotion and lip balm. To be entered to win, just leave a comment on this blog post about how you share health news and stay connected to your network of support.

And if you are looking for a professional career in caregiving, visit Caregiverlist.com's Caregiving Career Center.

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Caregiver Interview Questions

Senior caregivers interviewing for jobs with senior home care agencies, hospitals, assisted living communities and nursing homes must remember to ask the interviewer questions.  This is because as an interview candidate, you are also determining if the company and job will be a good fit for you.

Asking questions will also impress your interviewer that you are both a professional and seeking a permanent position where you can grow your career.  Because you are caring enough to find out more information, you demonstrate you have an understanding of your skills and strengths and weaknesses in order to know what caregiving job position will be best for you.  This is when you can also learn about training opportunities to improve in areas where you do not have as much work experience.

Questions to Ask Caregiver Job Interviewers:

  • What are the qualities you are looking for in an ideal candidate for your caregiving position?
  • Do you have an example of a typical day on the job?
  • What do you like best about working for this company?
  • How would you describe your management role and style?
  • Why is this job position available?
  • What traning do you offer new hires?
  • What opportunities do you have for career growth?
  • What are the qualities successful caregivers at your company possess?
  • Do you have any concerns about my potential as an employee for your company?
  • What are the next steps for me to take after the interview in order to be hired?

Remember, too, that many interviewers like to kick off the interview by asking you to "tell me about your self" or asking "what experiences lead you to be a professional caregiver".

Think about your answers to these questions ahead of time .  Remember, they are trying to get to know you and your personality.  Be willing to open up and share a true story which will also convey your true colors and why you will bring compassion to your job as a caregiver.

You may learn about caregiver job descriptions and apply for a senior care jobs in your area, as senior care companies are constantly hiring to keep up with demand as seniors are discharged from hospitals and nursing homes, often on short-notice.










Caregiver Resume Writing Tips

Presenting a resume, along with your caregiver job application, will make a positive impression on your potential employer.  Why?  Because it will show you are organized and motivated about becoming an employee. It also demonstrates professionalism and helps make their job easier.

A well designed resume will walk an employer through your work history and highlight your current job objective.  It will also provide references along with their phone numbers.  This way the employer does not need to call you for this information when they a ready to move forward with a job offer.

You may view a professional caregiver resume and build your own resume, following a pre-written example on the Caregiverlist Resume Builder.

Find out about training programs in your area and apply for a job as a professional part-time or full-time caregiver.

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