If getting to the bathroom is a struggle, climbing stairs to get to a car is going to be a lot like conquering Everest. We’ve tried several different methods and to be honest, some left a great deal to be desired.
Why is it a problem? In our case, there are two reasons. The chief reason is a pain. Arthritis mixed in with all the other medical problems does make going from bed to bathroom and back (about 14 feet one way) difficult. If we want to go out, there are a total of ten steps one direction to get up and then back down.
Thankfully we can use a wheelchair for the “in between” spots. There is also residual stiffness and lack of muscle tone after being in bed for several months due to a broken ankle. That makes a particular fall risk situation.
Mobility Aids: Our elder has an excellent walker. It has four wheels, a seat, and brakes. It’s very stable, so it resolves some of the fall risks, as do the brakes. Our elder is also using my old wheelchair from the broken knee incident. These are both very helpful in many situations. Stairs are not a situation they can help with.
Van Transport: The reason we didn’t call a van transport for our most recent trip to the doctor is that it did not provide what we needed…a way to get our elder up the stairs without her having to walk up and down them. Maybe it was just that particular driver or that specific company, but for $200 I expected not to have that problem. Sorry guys, you lost a customer. If you’re considering a van transport and you have a similar situation, make sure they can and will get the patient up and down the stairs without walking.
Ambulance Transport: These do provide chair lifts. They are very professional, and there is usually more than one in the team. If the insurance company authorizes it, you can expect a copay of about $200. If it doesn’t, you may be looking at a cost between $700 and $1000. Check the price first, so you know what the hit in the wallet is going to be.
Bus Transport: In our case, this is out of the question. These are for people slightly more mobile than our elder. However, many areas do have “dial a ride” transportation for qualifying people. Age or disability (or both) are considerations as they won’t just pick up anyone. The buses also don’t go down driveways unless previously arranged.
We made it to and from the doctor in one piece. That doesn’t mean there was no pain involved. By the time we got back, I think all of us had hurt somewhere and lingered on. If you have a situation in which an elder needs transportation and walking are difficult, talk to your doctor and a physical therapist about how to achieve the goals without risk to you or the patient.