My father was diagnosed with cerebellar and vestibular ataxia via genetic and other testing about fifteen years ago. He is now in his early 80's and is struggling a great deal with balance and walking. He has better days and worse days, but has had many falls over the past few years. These days he seems to have a bad fall every month and most recently he fell and broke his jaw and also suffered a very bad gash on his face and arm. He does use a cane and walker, but when the ataxia is severe, neither keeps him from falling. Our mother has become a 24/7 nurse and is getting visibly exhausted. I live an hour away and have young children of my own so I am unable to help as much as I would like. I am assuming that a wheelchair would give both of my parents more freedom, but this is a touchy issue with both my father and mother who seem to cling onto him "getting better". I do not wish to disrespect him, but would like to ask others with ataxia how to best introduce him to the idea. I thought it might be best to rent one and have it here when he visits so he can experience it. Also- they live at the beach- and the last time my father tried to walk on the beach the ataxia became so severe that he became sick to his stomach and could hardly move for some time after returning. I would hate to see him not be able to visit his beloved ocean. Can anyone share experience with more rugged terrain and wheelchairs (what kind can you recommend). Also, what about the combination of rugged terrain and ataxia (is the ataxia just as bad sitting in a wheelchair if the terrain is bumpy or uneven?)
Specifically I am looking for suggestions of 1. Introducing him to the idea of a wheelchair 2. suggestions for a type of wheelchair which is light, easy to use and able to be self propelled (so that my mother can leave for periods of time without worry.) 3. agencies which might provide services of staying with my father while my mother leaves the house for periods of time. 5. Agencies which might be able to help them reconfigure their house for ataxia safety. 4. other ideas I may not be thinking of.
Thank you very much.