Thursday, December 09, 2010
winter caregiving tips: wheelchair outings
While winter embraces all, it does demand caregiver / carer respect. Our story is about Multiple Sclerosis however winter weather does not discriminate over diagnosis.
In a wheelchair Patti does not generate the same body heat as a walking person. Cognitive impairment only adds to risk when outdoors in any weather.
Speculating on how fast it takes for hypothermia to set in is a fools’ question. … Prepare!
It’s easy to say “wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing”. However when someone is unable to dress themselves this can get beyond interesting. I find a sense of humor most helpful.
While a hat and scarf are often recommended I have concerns about mixing scarves and wheelchcairs, seems an accident waiting to happen. Hats work OK but are easily misplaced and can create some serious electric hair styles.
For outerwear we usually rely upon a hooded wool zippered cape. Capes are easier for getting on and off when assisting someone in a wheelchair and a zippered cape simply increases options. Hoods are easy to flip up or down, cover everything except the face and are always attached. While wool is ‘old school’ it still has the unique ability to provide warmth even when it is wet.
Mittens ‘rock’! Rather than struggle to fit her fingers into gloves Patti just slides her hands into warmth.
Do not forget lower body. Wrapping a blanket around gives that stadium seating look. However sliding leg warmers over pants legs are just as easy and makes a fashion statement. Both help maintain body heat and reduce any wind chill.
Thick socks with oversized shoes or boots make assisting with dressing infinitely easier. Patti’s not going to be walking. Proper shoe size is not as important as warm feet!
Remember your carer / caregiver self especially your footing on snow or ice-covered sidewalks, steps, driveways, etc. Falling is unacceptable.
Most winter outings will never need all of the above. Being prepared separates hiding out or enjoying winter to its fullest!
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
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