A Personal Mobility Aid (PMA) is a mobility assistance equipment that enables users with limited mobility to perform tasks independently, ranging from motorised wheelchairs to electric scooters for the elderly.
There are a variety of reasons why someone may be using PMAs, such as disabilities and old age. Given the wide range of PMA users, it is important to know how you can assist them when needed.
Ask if you can help
While it may be instinctual to jump in and help when you see a user struggling with their device, you should first ask them for permission before providing assistance. Despite your best intentions, assuming that they require your help may come across as demeaning. The user is also more familiar with their device and may have encountered the same problem before and can thus fix the issue independently.
It is important to note that when asking for consent, you should look and speak directly to the user, even if they are with a caregiver or companion. As a rule, simply treat them the way you would treat anyone else: with respect for their independence and autonomy.
Choose PMA-friendly routes
Using a PMA is not always easy—there are often obstacles on the road that make it difficult for users to roll along. Try looking for accessibility ramps, and avoid stairs, steep slopes, and bumpy roads. For a smoother journey, ask the user for their recommended route; they are likely to be more familiar with navigating the terrain than you are and have a better idea of the kind of grounds that work best for their device.
Check in with the user
If you are helping to push the device, you should check in regularly about your pace and movement. You should also inform the user of your intentions when moving, such as when you are planning to turn or tilt the PMA.
Know your limits
If you are unable to overcome an obstacle or are facing any difficulties while navigating, ask for assistance. Let the PMA user guide you through any issues as they best know their devices and what they require.
Don’t feel the need to avoid talking about the device or situation
It may feel awkward to talk about the PMAs directly, but it is not taboo to reference it in the conversation. While conversations should ideally focus on your relationship with the user, you can casually mention the device they are using as well.
Furthermore, you do not have to avoid using references to walking or running; common phrases like “running late” are not usually offensive and do not have to be avoided (though should the user express discomfort, you should honour their request to avoid the specific phrases or topics).
Like everyone else, PMA users sometimes need a helping hand. We just need to remember that while they might have limited mobility, they are equally still able to maintain independence. After all, PMAs are designed to help them maintain mobility and independence. For more information on how you can help your loved ones, especially your elderly loved ones, maintain mobility and independence in their later years, head over to https://www.falconmobility.com.sg/ to find out!