Friday, April 16, 2010

Wrong wheelchair leaves Mom in pain and uncomfortable...ARGH!!!

I had not seen Mom in two months due to travel and a visit to my home out of state. When I finally got to her I was angered all over again because of the way Mom was left sitting in a wheelchair that's obviously too big for her.    The size means she slipped around and was unable to sit up.  She slid so far forward that she could not use the arm rests.  Without the ability to use her arms AND her legs at the same time, she could not push herself back up in the seat. The moment I saw her it was obvious to me that the wheelchair was a poor fit.    She was slumped down so that she was "sitting" on the back of her hips and some of her weight was on her shoulders.   This position will aggravate the arthritis pain in her lower back and hurt her upper back where she's stooped with a "dowagers" hump.   I was immediately INCENSED that she would be left sitting in a position like this.  

I didn't rush to judgement or yell at anyone but I sure wanted to!!!  It took all of my will power NOT to come unglued on these people.  I spent two hours with her, watching her move about in the chair and helping her get "adjusted" to a more comfortable position.   It became clear, as I watched her, that the pad in the chair was the problem.  It was thick and spongy, it felt like a bag full of wet noodles.  When Mom slid forward, the bulk of the pad bunched up behind her preventing her from pushing herself back to a more comfortable position.   So - two days later I took a smaller wheel chair to the nursing home and MADE the therapists put Mom in it to compare the "fit".   They DID NOT want to do this comparison.  They bull-headedly argued that she needed a pad, that she had poor posture and was "just bent this way now".  They said she wouldn't TRY to push herself up.   I had to yell at them to listen and to take a good look at her in the chair and pad.

With the original "noodle" pad, it was not a good fit, the seat was not deep enough.  I complained about the pad and an "aide" - NOT ONE OF THE THERAPISTS - suggested using a different pad - it made all the difference!!!   With a firmer pad she was able to use her arms and legs to push herself back when she slid forward.  The new pad also had a slight rise in the front that prevented her from sliding so far forward that she was able to push herself back BEFORE getting so far down in the chair.    So - she ended up in the same chair - tho it's still a bit too big - and a new pad.  Now she's comfortable  but I wonder what damage was done in the two months she spent "bent" in the large chair and bad pad.   For a weak 89-year old, two months like that can do lots of harm - she could loose what little strength she had to help herself.

Next - a meeting with the social workers and administrator to discuss Mom's overall comfort and this damned "Chair situation"!
wheelchair pads