Sometimes it feels like the only weather channel you need to predict the weather is your own body. Many people dealing with a disability or health issues such as MS, arthritis and fibromyalgia often feel like their body is the ultimate weather gauge, welcoming new aches and pains with every change happening outside. However, being aware of how the weather can affect those with disabilities provides you with the perfect opportunity to prevent aches, pains and other inconveniences.
Preparation Starts with Knowledge
Although you may not have had to turn the weather station on for years as your body gives you the ultimate prediction of what's going on outside, you may want to reconsider. Checking the weather channel can significantly improve the way you feel. Knowing what the forecast holds for tomorrow, the next day and even the next week allows you to plan and manage any increase in pain that may be experienced. Stock up on your medications when a storm is coming, find your hot and cold packs that are stuck in storage somewhere, and arrange for friends and family to come for visits to deter the winter blues from soaking in when you aren't feeling well enough to zip around on your motorized wheelchair or to go outside.
Prepare for Temperature Changes
The weather can change significantly from one day to the next, so you definitely want to get in the habit of checking the weather station frequently so you can prepare for any temperature changes that are expected. There are some disabilities that make it hard for people to sense and maintain temperature extremities, which increases their risk of severe frostbite. Having bundles of layers readily available is always important, whether it is having additional layers of clothing around the home or extra blankets in a place that can be accessible for those with mobility difficulties. Barrier-free design is also a huge benefit to have in the home of those with a disability. Call MEDability today and sign up for a free in home assessment.
Prepare Your Mobility Equipment
Whether you use a power wheelchair, a cane or other mobility healthcare equipment, the weather can make it much more difficult for you to get around. In fact, your motorized wheelchair battery will lose 60% of its charge as soon as the temperature drops below zero. So preserve the battery life by keeping them warm by wrapping a blanket around them. When batteries are not in use, leave it plugged in to keep it warm if temperatures drop below -20 degrees. Add an ice grip onto your mobility products to provide more stability on a variety of often-unpredictable surfaces of the season. In addition, treat yourself to a good pair of boots that have good traction. You may even want to consider adding snow-grabber traction devices onto your footwear to further fall prevention.
Grips on tires for wheelchairs are also highly recommended as they are designed specifically to avoid getting stuck in the snow or slipping on ice. However, sometimes this isn't a plausible option for electric wheelchairs and motorized scooters. There are many do-it-yourself projects that can enhance your mobility during the season. Consider creating a "snowplow" that can be attached to the footrest of your motorized wheelchair or scooter. Always keep plenty of sand in the home to maintain slip-free and clear ramps and walkways, and having a homemade de-icer on hand will certainly be beneficial. Simply mix 50% vinegar and 50% water in a spray bottle, and watch the icy pathways vanish. Another solution with ingredients that can be found right in your home include mixing 2/3 rubbing alcohol with 1/3 water in a spray bottle. Then, spray your way to safer mobility.
With these tips considered, it is highly recommended to go through this preparation checklist to ensure that you are fully prepared for whatever the winter season blows in. An emergency supply kit with extra batteries for any electric mobility products, flashlights and batteries and a week's supply of canned food and water should be put in the home in case of any emergencies. Plenty of blankets and clothing for extreme conditions should also be accessible at any given time, as well as first aid supplies and backup medical equipment needed, whether it's battery chargers or adaptors that are needed for dialysis or oxygen equipment. A wireless and fully charged house phone is also highly recommended, and prescriptions, contact lenses, hearing aids and other daily necessities should be stocked up on.
Home care services including PSW and in home helpers may also be disrupted during the winter season, so develop a network of friends and family that can come to you in case of a storm. However, with these crucial steps to preparing and knowing how the weather may affect you this season, you'll be able to enjoy the weather while also managing any unexpected ache and pains.
If you need further help preparing your power wheelchair, motorized scooter, vertical porch lift or other mobility equipment, MEDability is here to help.