Wheelchair Rentals: For Times When Mobility is Difficult
Getting older often means experiencing a decrease in mobility, especially in environments that are challenging even for agile individuals, such as along the beach and on hilly streets. But, just because you don’t get around as well as you used to, you don’t have to give up traveling or participating in activities you love. Wheelchair rentals are available almost anywhere you want to go, making it easy for you to still visit the places you enjoy. There’s no reason to spend a fortune on buying a wheelchair if you don’t need one every day. Just find a company that offers wheelchair rentals to save some money and gain accessibility.
Benefits of Renting a Wheelchair Over Buying One
In addition to the obvious cost-related benefits to renting a wheelchair instead of buying one, several other advantages to wheelchair rentals exist that can mean the difference between a frustrating outing and a pleasant one. For instance, the flexibility of renting a wheelchair means you can return it when you no longer need it. You don’t have to haul it around in your car or keep it in your home taking up space if you’re not in a situation where you need to use it.
If you enjoy traveling, there’s no need to transport a wheelchair with you in your car or on a plane, which can be cumbersome and expensive, particularly if you have to pay to check the chair when you fly. You can rent a chair at the airport to get you to your gate and rent another one when you get to your destination. If you visit an attraction that’s going to require considerable walking, you can rent yet another wheelchair to make that trip more enjoyable for both you and your fellow travelers.
Renting a wheelchair also means you’re not responsible for its maintenance and repair. If your rented wheelchair isn’t working properly, you can turn it in for another one. But if you’ve purchased one, you may need to pay to get the one you have repaired or wait for insurance to deliver a new one (and you’ll probably have to pay coinsurance for the new chair as well). Wheelchair rentals are almost always more cost-effective than owning one, especially if you only need one temporarily.
Types of Wheelchair Rentals
Not every wheelchair is right for a particular situation or environment. For example, you may not want a regular motorized wheelchair if you’re going to the beach because the sand will prevent it from working properly. You would want a manual wheelchair for this occasion. Similarly, you may find an electric wheelchair the perfect solution for a flat amusement park that has mostly paved roads. No one will have to push your chair from attraction to attraction and you can keep up with excited children and other travelers. Carefully consider your environment and mobility needs before selecting a wheelchair to rent.
Standard Wheelchair Rental
In most situations, a standard wheelchair rental will be sufficient for your needs. These manual wheelchairs are similar to what you see in the hospital for patients, at the airport for transporting passengers from the terminal to the gate (or vice versa), and in use by people who have temporary injuries to their legs, ankles, or feet. They are the least expensive type of wheelchair and can be folded up for easy transport. Standard wheelchair rentals are perfect for shopping trips, zoo excursions, or other outings that offer smooth paths and flat terrain.
Standard wheelchairs can be rented through Medicare, which is likely the most cost-effective solution if you need a long-term rental. But, if you’re just looking for a short-term rental for a day trip or a week-long vacation, contact a homecare or durable medical equipment store to learn about their rates and policies. These stores are plentiful, especially in large cities and near tourist attractions.
There are some factors to consider when choosing a standard wheelchair for rental. There are chairs that have wider seats for heavier people and chairs that have more back support than others. Be sure you rent the wheelchair that’s most comfortable for you and that you don’t just choose the cheapest option. You might as well ride in comfort, after all!
Beach Wheelchair Rental
The beach presents a unique situation for wheelchairs because as mentioned above, you have to be careful to choose the type of wheelchair that won’t quit working if it gets sand on it. But standard wheelchairs don’t push well in sand, so that type of chair isn’t effective either. The solution is to rent a wheelchair that is specifically designed for sand. Beach wheelchairs have smooth oversized wheels that roll over the sand rather than sinking in it like the thinner, treaded wheels on a standard wheelchair.
Some beach wheelchairs are also designed to go into the water, which can help people with mobility issues enjoy the refreshing surf as well as the beach itself. Others are meant to only be used onshore, but allow people to cruise along the ocean’s edge, sunbathe on the sand, or simply take in the view alongside family members and friends.
There are a couple of options for beach wheelchair rentals. Most popular beaches offer the use of beach wheelchairs for free to visitors, but you may need to reserve one by calling the beach office or filling out an online form. You can also contact a store that specializes in beach wheelchairs and pay for a daily or weekly rental. These usually don’t need reservations because they stock plenty of chairs for rent, but it’s always a good idea to call ahead and make sure they have the one you want.
Electric Wheelchair Rental
As you can imagine, purchasing an electric wheelchair is expensive. Unless you are prescribed an electric wheelchair for a specific condition, it’s almost always a better idea to rent one for temporary use. Electric wheelchair rentals are ideal for environments that are mostly flat and paved so that the chair can move freely and at an appropriate speed. Amusement parks, shopping malls, casinos, and other places that are designed for pedestrian and wheelchair access. Many tourist centers have upgraded their facilities to include flat paths around their attractions for the express purpose of making them more ADA-friendly. But, you should always research your destination first to make sure an electric wheelchair makes sense.
Many mobility device retailers and homecare stores offer electric wheelchair rental options alongside their normal line of products. It’s also possible to find rental wheelchairs online, sometimes directly from the brand or manufacturer themselves.
Rented electric wheelchairs usually have monthly payments of around $200-500, depending on the model. Some retailers offer rent-to-own programs, where rental payments count toward the full price of the item (which becomes your property once it’s paid off). These are both great options for those who need an electric wheelchair that’s both immediately affordable and accessible. Sometimes, care just can’t wait.
Mobility Scooter Rental
Another option that is available to you for improved accessibility in places that present a challenge to walking is the mobility scooter. These resemble electric wheelchairs in that you sit on a seat and use the controls to move the scooter around. But, a mobility scooter is better for people who have full use of their hands since more steering is required and have the balance to keep the scooter upright. Many elderly people prefer scooters to electric wheelchairs because they just need a way to get from place to place instead of a motorized chair that they remain seated in the entire time.
Electric wheelchairs are ideal for indoor environments while scooters are well-suited for rougher outdoor terrain. The wheels on mobility scooters have deeper tread and can travel on unpaved paths or gravel roads. The downside to mobility scooters is that they need a fairly large place to turn around and are difficult to travel with since most of them don’t fold up like electric wheelchairs do.
Mobility scooters can be rented from most places that also rent electric wheelchairs. Homecare and medical supply stores usually have three- and four-wheeled scooter options for about $150 per week. Some people might prefer to rent a mobility scooter over a wheelchair because of the stigma that’s attached to wheelchairs, although you should always choose the most comfortable and convenient option for your individual needs, regardless of what others think.
Steps to Rent a Wheelchair
No matter what type of wheelchair you decide to rent, there are some steps to take to make sure you get the model you want for the duration you need. The best way to rent a wheelchair is to plan ahead so that you’re able to reserve one for your travels. These steps are as follows:
- Determine how long you’ll need a wheelchair for. Wheelchair rentals can be for daily, weekly, or monthly use. Be aware that long-term rentals are usually cheaper than short-term rentals and that you’ll probably have to sign a contract for weekly or monthly rentals.
- Contact Medicare or your private insurance company to see if wheelchair rentals for your purpose (i.e. vacation, shopping trip, etc.) are covered. If they are, you may be required to rent one through your insurer’s preferred provider.
- If your insurer does cover wheelchair rentals for your purpose, ask how long they will cover a rental, how much the insurer will pay, and how much your portion of the costs will be.
- If your insurer covers wheelchair rentals and requires the rental to go through a preferred provider, contact that provider to arrange the rental and payment.
- If your insurer does not cover wheelchair rentals, shop around in the area where you’ll need the chair for the company that offers the best rates for the wheelchair you want. In many cases, you’ll also have to pay a refundable deposit along with your rental fee to guard against damage, loss, or theft.
- If you want to rent a beach wheelchair, contact the beaches you’ll be visiting to see if they offer beach wheelchair rentals for free. Many beaches offer this service, but require reservations.
- When you go to pick up your wheelchair rental, inspect your chair for damage to report before you take possession of it. If possible, take the chair for a test ride to make sure it’s comfortable and provides the features you expected.
- Make sure you only use your rental wheelchair for that model’s specific purposes. This will allow you to get your deposit back in full. Return the chair on time or contact the provider to extend your rental if needed.
Wheelchair Rentals When Traveling
Sometimes, you may not need a wheelchair rental for the entire time you’re traveling. Perhaps you just need one to get to your gate at the airport and to the terminal after you arrive at your destination. Maybe you don’t need one at your hotel, but want one when you go on excursions or shopping trips. There are a couple of ways to go about renting a wheelchair for these purposes.
The first way is to contact the facility to inquire about wheelchair rental options. Individual airlines at the airport have them available for a small fee and usually provide a staff member to push you and your chair to or from the gate. In some airports, this service may be complementary, but it’s always a good idea to tip the person who pushes you. Some hotels will provide wheelchairs while on the property or may rent them out for excursions. Places like museums, zoos, and other tourist attractions often have wheelchairs available to rent or for free use with a refundable deposit. It’s always best to contact the facility first to determine if they have wheelchairs there or if you need to bring your own.
If you’re using a travel agent for your trip, tell them you would like to have a wheelchair waiting for you at your destination. They will take care of renting the chair and will include those costs in your overall bill. This is an excellent option if you don’t want to hassle with calling every place you’re going to visit to reserve a wheelchair or you would rather not deal with making the arrangements and picking up the chair from the vendor.
Don’t Let Your Declining Mobility Get in the Way of Living Your Life
Everyone is going to experience declining mobility at some point. If you’re at that stage in life, going to your favorite and new places can be challenging. Fortunately, wheelchair rentals are available almost everywhere you need or want to go as long as you plan ahead. You can still enjoy the places you love to visit from the comfort of a wheelchair and be able to keep up with anyone who accompanies you on these trips.
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