As mobility decreases with age, it is so important that our older loved ones are still able to move around as much as possible, with limited assistance. Wheelchairs can help individuals with limited mobility greatly, but can be expensive and difficult to afford.
There are multiple programs that can help seniors pay for part or all of the cost of a wheelchair.
5 Free Wheelchair Programs
- Medicare Part B will cover the majority of the cost of an electric wheelchair if all criteria is met. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine if you are eligible for a wheelchair. You must have a medical need for a wheelchair with a written doctor's note. Criteria includes:
- Limited mobility and a health condition that causes significant difficulty moving around in your home.
- You are unable to do daily activities inside the home such as bathing, dressing, getting in or out of bed, or using the bathroom.
- You can operate the wheelchair safely and get on and off the wheelchair or have someone available to help you.
- Medicaid will cover a wheelchair under the same criteria as Medicare Part B. Medicaid can also cover the remaining cost of the wheelchair—usually 20 percent— that Medicare did not cover.
- The Wheelchair Society (https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Washington-Area-Wheelchair-Society) distributes free wheelchairs and parts to individuals in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC areas. They recognize that not all individuals have Medicare or Medicaid and still need the mobility and independence that a wheelchair can provide.
- Chariots of Hope (http://www.chariotsofhope.org/) is a nonprofit organization that donates wheelchairs to people in need. All wheelchairs are inspected and repaired before they are donated. You can request a wheelchair by filling out the form on their website. They do not provide powered chairs.
- LifeNets (http://www.lifenetswheelchairproject.org/pls/apex/f?p=224:1) is a nonprofit organization that takes wheelchairs currently not in use and gives them to individuals who need them in the United States. Their online directory (http://www.lifenetswheelchairproject.org/pls/apex/f?p=224:39:::NO) lists items that are available and their location. You can register with them on their website to request an item.
Hoveround power wheelchairs can operate on a variety of surfaces and offer easy maneuverability including turning on corners and pulling up to areas such as countertops, tables and sinks.
Many older individuals qualify for a free or low-cost Hoveround with Medicare. Medicare will provide individuals with a 13-month rental and then transfer ownership of the Hoveround to the beneficiary once full payment has been made, through Medicare and co-pays or deductibles. Medicare will cover up to 80 percent of the cost of a Hoveround, with the remaining 20 percent covered through supplemental insurance, or out of pocket.
Once your senior loved one has received their wheelchair, make sure the rest of their living quarters will accommodate it. Think of things like:
- Wheelchair ramps
- Transfer aids such as gait belt or sliding board
- Vehicle lifts and car carriers
- Wider doors and hallways
- Roll-in showers with grab bars
- Counters and sinks at the right height
**Home Care Tip**