Let’s face it, no one has ever imagined that one day they would have to rely on a walker or another type of mobility aid. Unfortunately, many people in Australia deal with some form of physical disability that has impaired their walking permanently, or at particular point in life. While estimates about the prevalence of physical disability in Australia vary, most surveys agree that over 16% of the total population is comprised of people with disability. To illustrate, that makes 1 in 5 people – which means we all know someone living with disability. That being said, it’s important to properly educate ourselves about all the ways we can help these people.
Mobility aids are essential tools for making life easier and safer for people living with disabilities, as well as their caretakers. Today, around 640 000 people use mobility aids, ranging from wheelchairs to prosthetic limbs. If the person is only partially immobile, something as simple as a walker can go a long way. In fact, the walker along with the walking stick are the most commonly used mobility aids, each being used by 1.2% of the Australian population. Next in frequency of use is the manual wheelchair on which 0.6% of Australians rely to move around. All in all, 2.8% of Australians regularly use one or more mobility aids.
Taking this into account, purchasing all these essential mobility aids can be too expensive for some people to afford. Fortunately, individuals with disability can be entitled to free assistive equipment and devices, subsidised by the government. It is also possible to get financial assistance if there’s a need for essential medical equipment for the home, such as a dialysis machine or oxygen equipment. Whatever the aid you need, you can look into the National Disability Insurance Scheme and check whether you’re eligible for funding. Additionally, each state and territory has its own scheme about loaning equipment for free or at a relatively low cost.
Despite the fact that these mobility aids can be funded by the government, individuals can choose what particular aids they want to purchase. Whether you need a walker or a wheelchair, there are specialized one-stop stores where you can find all types of mobility and home health care equipment. If you are deemed eligible for financial assistance, most government funding agencies have a particular set of stores they collaborate with, so make sure to inform yourself first.
In general, you should consider purchasing the aid that provides you with the greatest manoeuvrability while also ensuring you stay safe and comfortable the whole time. For instance, if you need a walker due to decreased stability or fatigue, a four-wheeled rollator is the easiest model to use without sacrificing your safety. On the other hand, when it comes to more advanced aids such as wheelchairs, electric models are usually considered better than manual ones as they do not require any physical force to be used, which means the person won’t exert themselves too much.