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7 Signs You Need a Wheelchair

7 Signs You Need a Wheelchair: Tips for a Smooth Transition

When is it time to get a wheelchair? This question weighs on the minds of many seniors. Not everyone will need one, to be clear. People who already use walkers and other mobility aids, though, may want to think about it. This blog post can show you what to watch for. We’ll also give some advice on how to make an easy transition from walker to wheelchair.

The List of Diseases That Require a Wheelchair

Wheelchairs are useful for a wide range of situations. Some people need it from birth due to conditions like spina bifida and use it their whole lives. Others temporarily require one as they recover from an injury. Lifelong pedestrians might only need one as medical conditions take a toll on their aging bodies.

Wheelchairs are designed to help you get around while taking the burden off your legs and feet. They aren’t just for paralysis. Various diseases and disabilities can make walking and even standing difficult. Common reasons for using a wheelchair include, but are not limited to, the following conditions: 

  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Scoliosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis

7 Signs You Need a Wheelchair

Illness isn’t the only reason someone might ever transition to wheelchair use. Sometimes, the body just wears down to the point that the tool becomes necessary. Here’s a list of common signs you need a wheelchair, either part-time or all the time.

manual wheelchair

1. Your Doctor Insists on a Wheelchair

Perhaps you don’t believe that a wheelchair is necessary. Perhaps you already use a mobility aid, such as a walker, and that’s enough. Your perspective is valid: no one knows your health quite as you do.

However, your personal physician has solid experience and knowledge to assess the changes in your body. You visit them for that exact reason. If they suggest getting a wheelchair for seniors, you’d be wise to heed their qualified advice. However you may feel about the idea, your doctor would only suggest it because they want to help you.

2. You Started Falling Frequently

The idea of getting hurt just from falling over is no joke, especially for older adults. According to the Center for Disease Control, three million people over the age of 65 visited the emergency room for fall-related injuries in 2019.

One perk to wheelchair use is that you become much less likely to take a sudden tumble. After all, you are sitting the whole time. Even if none of your spills have been painful, you may not want to wait until something truly bad happens.

3. Your Mobility Is Getting Weaker

Wheels do not tire, grow sore from exertion, or experience pain. Feet and legs can, especially for older adults. Wheelchairs belong to a broad category of medical equipment called “mobility aids.” Their purpose is to offer a practical substitute for your feet and legs.

Difficulty with walking may be the most obvious of all signs you need a wheelchair. Far from feeling like a disturbing change, a tool like this may feel more like a welcome restoration of your ability.

4. You Can’t Go Out Anymore with a Walker

There’s a chance you’ve got another mobility aid that already helps you get around. Walkers are popular picks for those who can still stand, balance, and put one foot in front of the other.

Unfortunately, walkers can only do so much. If walking, balancing, or just standing becomes difficult, they will not take you far. Different mobility aids are designed for different levels of disability. An upgrade from walker to wheelchair may be necessary if the former stops serving you as well as it once did.

5. Walking Makes You Feel Pain

Difficulty with walking may not be a concerning matter. Slowing down is a natural effect of aging. It only becomes a cause for alarm if the pain becomes frequent. Taking a few steps should not hurt. If it does, you need to do something about it.

Wheelchairs take the burden off your feet and let you rest your regs while remaining on the go. Even if you are not paralyzed or fully incapable of walking, this support can provide much-needed pain relief. That alone makes it worthwhile.

6. Your Coordination Is Not Good

Coordination is the ability to stay upright and on your feet. Many people take it for granted. In truth, it’s the result of various senses and systems and parts working together. If they get rusty or start to fail, keeping your balance can get tough.

You don’t need to worry about that when you use a wheelchair. Their design makes them balanced by default, with wheels on either side of the frame to hold your seat in place. They make a healthy sense of coordination obsolete.

7. You’ve Got Neurological Issues

It’s not just the body that can cause people to need a wheelchair. The mind – specifically, neurological problems – can contribute as well. Various disorders and illnesses, including Alzheimer's disease, may make mobility substantially more difficult. Over time, it may even become impossible as the issues grow more severe.

Wheelchairs are not meant to be a cure. With that said, they can help with treatment and make life more convenient for the user. That goes for issues related to the brain merely as much as the rest of the body.

manual wheelchair

How to Make the Transition from Walker to Wheelchair Smoother

Making the transition from walker to wheelchair is not always easy. You and anyone helping you meet your needs should discuss it with your physician for more specific advice. Physical therapy can ease the change. Mental preparation may be even more important. 

One option you can try is the 2-in-1 rollator, which combines the two types of mobility aid. When you move a few parts around, the walker turns into a wheelchair and back again. You might want a more dedicated wheelchair in the future. Still, this inventive device can help you get accustomed to the new way.

What to Look for When Choosing Your First Wheelchair

More generally speaking, you will need to choose your type of wheelchair. There are two main kinds. Self-propelled wheelchairs are the kind where you push the wheels yourself to move forward. Electric wheelchairs propel themselves with battery power.

Equipment of the analog kind is usually less expensive than its fuel-using counterparts. However, electric wheelchairs require less physical exertion to operate. If your arms are still strong, you can save a bundle with a self-propelled wheelchair. If pushing a button or pulling a joystick sounds like a worthwhile convenience, electric wheelchairs are a great choice. 


So, when is it time to get a wheelchair? The answer will vary from person to person. You might not need it for a long time, or ever. If you experience any of the signs we described in this article, you might need it right away.

Here at Marc’s Mobility, we provide top-notch wheelchairs for seniors and other equipment. Our commitment to quality means that you can count on us for excellent mobility aids. Whatever your needs might be, we are here whenever you need us.

Alex Vander Poel
Alex Vander Poel
Marc’s Mobility was created by my Father Marc in 1995 when I was 7 years old. I have grown up in and around this industry and from an early age would clean, drive and repair these units with Marc. I graduated high school in 2006 and headed to Gainesville, FL to get a Business degree at the University of Florida. Once graduated, I moved back to Lakeland FL to help my father grow the business to what it is today.

I have been full-time in this industry for almost 12 years as of 2022. When I graduated college the company was a small 3 member operation. At the beginning, it was my primary role to inspect, repair, and prepare units for shipping all across the US. As we have grown to over a 10 man operation, I now oversee all aspects of the business but understand each and every role here at Marc’s Mobility. I believe what makes us successful is we do our best to treat everyone we interact with as if they were family.