Overview of Assisted Living for a Mom Who Uses a Wheelchair

If your mother is reliant on the use of a wheelchair at least to some degree, you may have reached a point in time when your mom and other family members are considering different residential options for her. Remaining living alone in her single family residence, townhome, condo, or apartment may not be sufficient to meet her needs. Therefore, you may wonder what other living options are available to your mother. One option that you will want to consider is moving your mom to an assisted living facility. 

There are assisted living facilities in California and across the country that accommodate women in wheelchairs. These communities can provide an ideal residential environment for your mom should she (and your family) be interested in moving her into such a facility. 

There is a number of facts and factors to bear in mind when thinking about moving your mom who uses a wheelchair to an appropriate assisted living community:

  • ADA and assisted living communities
  • Basic services at an assisted living community
  • When assisted living is not suitable for a woman in a wheelchair
  • Medicare, wheelchairs, and assisted living

What Is Assisted Living?

Before diving deeper into the ways in which assisted living can be beneficial to your mother if she uses a wheelchair, a discussion of what is assisted living is helpful. Assisted living facilities are classified as planned communities which make use of both private and social spaces. Assisted living facilities provide services to create a low-maintenance lifestyle for seniors who may need minor assistance in some aspects of day-to-day living.  

The level and types of care offered by an assisted living facility range from support for activities of daily living, like bathing and dressing, as well as the provision of community events, communal meals and housekeeping services.  

Assisted living facilities are intended to accommodate residents with low to intermediate levels of care needs. The objective of an assisted living community is to maintain the comfort, independence and active lifestyles of residents. Residents who have greater needs, such as for regular assistance bathing or medical device use, also have the option to hire home care aides to visit them in the community and address these matters.

ADA and Assisted Living Communities

The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA is applicable at many assisted living communities in the country. What this means is that certain assisted living facilities that fall under the prevue of the ADA must be able to reasonably accommodate the needs of residents who have certain types of disabilities. For example, if a person otherwise meets the requirements of being a resident at a particular assisted living facility, if that individual needs to use a wheelchair (but otherwise meets facility qualifications), the ADA may require that facility to make reasonable accommodations for such a resident. A reasonable accommodation might be addition of a wheelchair ramp of some sort to permit a person in a chair the ability to enter and exit an assisted living residence.

Basic Services at an Assisted Living Community

There are differences from one assisted living community to another. With that said, there are some basic services that typically are provided to residents at an assisted living community. These oftentimes include:

  • Safe and assessable spaces
  • Personal care services
  • Built-in accessibility aids
  • Social space accessibility
  • Transportation
  • Physical therapy

Again, you need to remember that what is offered at one assisted living community may not be available at another. If your mom needs a wheelchair, these services are provided in a manner that make them accessible to her. 

When Assisted Living Is Not Suitable for a Woman in a Wheelchair

There are instances in which assisted living is not suitable for a woman in a wheelchair. Situations in which assisted living is not the right option for a woman who uses a wheelchair include:

  • Cannot perform most or all of their personal care tasks
  • Rely on medical equipment that they cannot operate or maintain 
  • Cannot follow directions or move to safety in emergency situations
  • Have active tuberculosis
  • Are chronically bedbound

Medicare, Wheelchairs, and Assisted Living

Medicare will pay the cost associated with the use of a wheelchair at your residence. This includes use of a wheelchair in an assisted living facility. If you only need to use a wheelchair when you are away from your residence, that will not be covered by Medicare.

Medicare will pay the costs associated with either a manual or a power wheelchair. You need to obtain a written order from your doctor that you have some type of medical condition that requires the use of a wheelchair. Medicare requires that you have a face-to-face examination with your doctor before a wheelchair order is written. That examination can be in person or via telehealth.