Heart failure

Driving, mobility aids and state benefits

People diagnosed with heart failure may be told to stop driving at least until their condition is stabilised. Some people we spoke to had stopped driving completely but others had not because they enjoyed it so much. One man described his car as a lifeline; another said that driving was the only way that he could get out of the house, which was important to him and his wife. Another man said that though he regretted giving up his car he tried to face it philosophically. Being unable to drive caused Mike and his wife to move from the home they owned at the top of a hill to a council bungalow on more level ground and nearer to public transport. He had loved driving and found life difficult without a car.
Several people had been issued with a disabled parking permit (blue badge) and Daniel had also obtained a car through the motability scheme whereby you exchange part of your state benefits for a lease on a car, scooter or powered wheelchair.
Mobility scooters are another way of people being able to get further than they could on foot. Norman owned his own scooter and used it every day for a ride around the countryside near his home. Others hired a scooter when out shopping through a local Shopmobility scheme. These operate in many town centres and are available for anyone to use and are often, but not always, free of charge. Paul said he was considering using one when he goes on holiday abroad to keep up with his family when out walking. Some said they might need a scooter of their own in future because of their heart failure and other health problems.
Other mobility aids sometimes used by people we spoke with included wheelchairs, wheeled walkers or rollaters, and walking sticks. Although it isn’t meant to be used as a walking aid, Cathleen finds pushing her shopping trolley a helpful support when out walking. Some had also obtained a seat for their kitchen or shower.
People with heart failure may experience financial hardship, and may be entitled to one or more government benefits, such as Statutory Sick pay, Employment and Support Allowance (which has replaced Incapacity Benefit), Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance. See gov.uk.


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