August 16, 2013

Diane Walker, RN, MS, CSA

When someone you love becomes confined to a wheelchair, the struggle can be more than just physical. Loss of mobility and a wheelchair’s hard, cold appearance and association with sickness can take a major psychological toll on your loved one. July is National Wheelchair Beautification Month. You may have never thought of “beautifying” a wheelchair, but a few fun tweaks to your loved one’s wheelchair can have a big impact on their outlook on life.

Wheelchair Beautification Month was founded by author and illustrator Horace Knowles, who suggested that you could spruce up a wheelchair by attaching a florist’s tube with velcro to display fresh flowers. Need more inspiration on how to beautify your loved one’s wheelchair? Here are our top tips to get you started:

  • Start with a color. Wheelchairs all used to be cold metal. But now, many wheelchair companies offer their chairs in a variety of fun colors. Help your loved one choose one that fits his personality.
  • Customize. Wheelchair companies also now make accessories such as cushions, seat belt covers, and wheel covers in different colors and patterns. Sprucing up a bland seat belt or making a statement with wheel covers can help your loved one see her wheelchair in a whole new light.
  • Think floral. Horace Knowles was onto something with his idea for a way to attach flowers to a wheelchair. Using a florist’s tube like Knowles suggested is a great way to add fresh flowers. But for something that lasts longer and is easier to care for, silk flowers are a great way to go. Silk flowers can be attached all along the wheelchair’s frame for a look that brings the beauty of a garden wherever your loved one goes.
  • Get sporty. Is your loved one a big sports fan? Celebrate his favorite team by attaching small flags to the upper frame of the wheelchair, or displaying a large flag across the back. Not only will this show off his loyalties, it’s sure to spark up friendly conversation with new people.
  • Choose a theme. To really make a statement, choose a theme for your wheelchair project. A luau themed-wheelchair can be decked out with a grass skirt and silk lei. Neon colors can make an 80s-themed wheelchair really stand out. Use your imagination and have fun!
  • Be crafty. Still looking for inspiration? Take a trip with your loved one to the local craft store. Strings of beads, feather boas, stickers, ribbons, and other craft supplies can all be incorporated into her wheelchair.

Using a wheelchair can be a big adjustment. Helping your loved one see his or her wheelchair in a more positive light can make a significant difference. And beautifying a wheelchair can be a fun project that the two of you can share.

Tags:  wheelchair, seniors, elderly, beautifcation