Over the last year, new portable oxygen concentrators have hit the market and are available for patients to now use around the clock. Oxygen concentrators are significantly more advanced and “senior-friendly” than oxygen tanks. While oxygen tanks are made of aluminum and are quite heavy and clunky, oxygen concentrators are small, plastic systems that compress and purify air. Oxygen tanks have a finite amount of air available which you are required to refill once empty. On the contrary, oxygen concentrators generate an infinite amount of oxygen, as long as the battery is powered.
Most oxygen systems used in the home have a standard oxygen concentrator that plugs into the wall and portable tanks or a liquid carrier for when they leave the home. If a person travels, they would need to pack up all components of the system and transport the system to the destination to which they are traveling. Sometimes, this isn’t possible if traveling by air, so a second system must be rented to accommodate their oxygen needs where they are traveling.
New portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) are now available to complement, or in some cases, replace oxygen systems – allowing for travel on airplanes, cruise ships or RVs. These new POCs range in weight from 4 pounds on up to 15 pounds and can be used not only during wake hours, but also for sleep. They plug in and charge in the car and operate as the main system when plugged into the wall at the hotel. Many equipment companies are unable to provide these POCs for insurance reimbursement due to the cost of the new technology, but they are available for private purchase with a prescription for oxygen.
Unfortunately, most seniors are not educated on the differences between oxygen tanks and oxygen concentrators. Furthermore, there are various concentrators to choose from, so picking the brand right for your needs can be difficult. Whether you live at home and have care from a home care agency, or reside in a senior living community, we recommend asking your trusted senior healthcare professional on which brand they prefer.