Richard’s mother had fractured her hip when she was 76 years old and even though his brother and sister said that they needed to install wheelchair ramps in the home, he didn’t think so. His father may have been nearing 80, but he was still fit and could manage to help their mother into the house and up the few steps with relative ease. For Richard, the issue wasn’t about safety, but about convenience. He was thinking about the cost that would be incurred for something that he didn’t believe would be necessary for very long. “What’s the point of paying all that money to install wheelchair ramps that are only going to be used for like, two months?” he asked his brother Bill and Sister Linda.
During the first three weeks of their mother’s recovery, she was going to physical therapy five times a week and that meant that her husband, Richard’s strong father, had to maneuver her wheelchair down three steps and around the driveway to the car at least 10 times a week.
By the fourth week, even Richard’s mother began to notice that the task was taking a toll on her husband and she called Bill and Linda and almost begged them to come over and help out when she had to visit the doctor or physical therapist. Her husband was a proud man and refused to accept any help. “I managed to raise three kids and work two jobs most of my life,” he said, stubbornly, “I think I can manage to help my wife up three little steps.”
On the first day of that fifth week, Richard’s father lost the battle and dropped his wife down the last two steps. The contact and the way the wheelchair tipped over, she was tossed to the hard, concrete floor and re-fractured her hip. Meanwhile, her husband broke his collarbone in his own fall.
Bill and Linda excoriated Richard for refusing to help invest in a wheelchair ramp for their mother when he had the chance. Now, not only was her recovery set back, they had to worry about their father who wouldn’t even be able to get her out the door, let alone down the stairs.
If you have a loved one who is in a wheelchair, no matter how long they are confined to it (whether it’s for a month or a year, for example), installing a wheelchair ramp is essential to their safety and well-being. The expense may seem high at the moment, but it’s far cheaper than having an accident that can set recovery back months, if not years.