There is a group I just stumbled upon called the GROW Coalition. GROW stands for “Getting Residents Out Of Wheelchairs.” It is the goal of the GROW Coalition that residents residing in nursing homes use regular seating devices in situations where sitting in a regular chair is considered the norm and socially accepted. Examples would include: eating, activities, sitting and talking with family members, watching TV, listening to an entertainment program, resting when tired and socializing with other residents.
Additionally the goal includes maximizing resident mobility by walking in situations where walking would be the norm. Examples would include: walking to meals, walking to activities, walking outside, walking to deliver an item or a message, walking to therapy, walking to the hair dresser, walking to shower, walking to bathroom, walking to visit other residents and friends, walking with family, and walking to entertainment events.
It is the norm to see many residents in nursing homes crowded around nursing stations in their wheelchairs. Do some absolutely need them all of the time? Sure. But the point of this group is well taken. Sometimes wheelchairs are used by both staff and resident as a crutch. It is easier to deal with someone in a chair than saying having to assist the resident in getting up and transferring them to a seat for example.
Two lessons – for people who have loved ones in nursing homes, be observant to how this play out. But also to those who have loved ones at home in wheelchairs or are in one themselves, ask if the device is absolutely necessary all of the time and whether they have the ability to not use an assistive device at times. That dependency will only carry over and maybe exacerbate the need for long-term care.