This past year, the Villella Family’s days have been filled with lots of adventure, ups and downs and, of course, blessed memories. It seems as though life keeps getting busier and busier, but this past spring and summer our family’s busyness was for a very good reason. After mom’s yearly visit to the Cleveland Clinic Mellen Center we were encouraged by her PA to begin the process of bringing assistive devices to her daily routine. Although this had been a discussion we had as a family many times, we had not moved forward other than with some basic research. So, with the strong encouragement from mom’s PA, we began the serious work of researching, testing, and purchasing three devices for mom and her caregivers.
Sometime in April 2017, mom and dad began the process of securing an electric wheelchair. They eventually settled on Miller’s in Youngstown, Ohio since they had previously purchased a manual wheelchair from them and had a business relationship with Miller’s. The process began with a home visit from their ATP who assessed the house, took measurements of mom, and reviewed various electric wheelchair options. Mom then had to be evaluated by a Physical Therapist. Eventually a specific electric wheelchair was selected, ordered, and delivered in mid-August.
The learning curve for navigating the chair has been steep for mom and she has had her share of “accidents” with the chair. Needless to say, she is still learning how to overcome her fears of using the chair and hopefully will someday soon become comfortable with her electric wheelchair.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE VAN
Nikki took a visit with mom and dad in May to M.C. Mobility Services in Mentor to begin looking at the options for handicap vans. Emails between my dad and one of their certified mobility consultants began and continued for the next several months. On the next visit, I joined them to begin more seriously exploring our options. Who knew there would be so many decisions to make when considering a handicap accessible van - brand, vehicle conversion, added features, side or back ramp access, power or manual ramp, new vs. used, and the list goes on. Little did I know that we would be there for three hours discussing these options with the certified mobility consultant, sales manager, mobility rep, and at one point, one of the owners. We were there so long, we had to have snacks from a vending machine which, of course, greatly limited our options for clean eating. By the end of the visit, we had put a down payment on a lightly used van that was only a year old with a few thousand miles. However, the van needed some detailing, changes to accessibility, etc.
A few weeks later, we made another trip to check out the finished van. This time, I was prepared with granola bars and apples in my bag. The van updates and detailing were amazing! We completed the purchase of the handicap accessible van and a week later, on September 8, our amazing M.C. Mobility Certified Mobility Consultant, Karla, delivered our van to our house in Canfield. The patience, knowledge, and guidance provided by all of those at M.C. Mobility was more than appreciated during this process. We shared a lot of laughs, some tears, and a lot of open and honest dialogue throughout this time with them.
The van has brought a new level of ease and to some degree independence to my parent’s daily life! No longer do we have to lift mom out of the rollator, transfer her to her seat in their SUV, swing her legs in and adjust her in the seat. Now, we just roll mom up the ramp, secure her wheelchair with four clamps, and seat belt her in and we are off to take on the day!
During this same time, we also made two visits to Access to Independence in Ravenna, Ohio. (I did love these trips as after each one we made a stop at Kent State University and the Bookstore for a little shopping, reminiscing, and some good eats in downtown Kent!) I was mesmerized by the Aging in Place Showroom and all of the medical products that this company carries and showcases. After spending some time testing the lift in the showroom – checking for the ease of use, comfort for mom, etc. – we made the decision to purchase a sit-to-stand device. Each time we visited Access to Independence, Vince and the entire staff were more than kind and friendly as we asked questions, tested the products, shared our journey and even had a few tears during the process. Access to Independence provides their customers with recommendations on products that fit their needs while allowing them to remain safe and confident to stay in their home as long as possible.
While we never thought our family’s journey would take us to researching and purchasing mobility devices it is a part of our story. We are thankful and blessed to have had the guidance, support, and encouragement of our new friends at Millers - Youngstown, M.C. Mobility, and Access to Independence to made this process easier while also educating us on this new chapter of our journey.
*Check out all of the new mobility devices in our Mobility Devices Photo Gallery