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Mobility Scooters for Seniors

I spent many years selling mobility products to seniors and their families, including scooters and powered-wheel chairs. Each person has a different need for a scooter, and there are a lot of different models out there.  The important thing is to look around at all of your options, or you could make a very expensive mistake.  Make sure you understand the very reason you need the scooter and never rush into making your purchase as buying the wrong product can be very costly indeed.  Do not let a sales person tell you what you need.  Know what you need first, then tell your sales rep not to change your mind.  In other words, don’t get sold something that’s not right for you.

Many of the scooters I have seen over the years are over-priced or are built overseas with cheap labor and cheaper parts.  These cheap products are popular because any company can put their name on the scooter and re-sell it as their own – usually for much more than it’s worth – and make a lot of money.  Since most people will use a mobility scooter for many years, buy a scooter that will last more than a few years. If you’ve never heard the name of the manufacturer, buy a different scooter.  There are some less than reputable brands out there.  A few very trusted brands are Golden Mobility and Pride Mobility – both made in the USA.  Both of these brands are available online at US Medical and a few other reputable online stores.  They are also available at mobility showrooms across the country.  There are other scooters out there too, but these are the ones I’m most familiar, I used to sell them proudly (I’m retired), and I think they are an excellent value.  If you have a friend or relative that has a mobility scooter, ask them how they like theirs and ask if you can give it a test-drive. 

The first step is to really think through why you need a scooter, how you will be using it, and how you will be transporting the scooter.

  • Do you need a mobility scooter for around the house only?
  • Do you want to buy a scooter that will go over grass and ground?
  • Do you need to buy a scooter just to go shopping?
  • Do you have a way to transport a scooter?
  • Will you need to lift a scooter in and out of a car?
  • Do you have narrow hallways or doorways in your home (make sure you measure all the doors you’ll need to pass through – including the bathroom.
  • How far will you need to travel in a scooter? From your house to the store?
  • How long will you be sitting in the scooter? Minutes or hours?

Buying an Indoor vs. Outdoor Scooter.

Some scooters are designed for around the house and some are designed for the outdoors. I like the three wheeled scooters for around the house.  They are usually more maneuverable which is necessary for getting around coffee tables and moving in small kitchens and bathrooms.  Some people worry about stability with only three wheels, but these units are very stable around the house.  Keep in mind, they don’t go that fast and your homes floors are usually very level.

For outdoor use, you need a different scooter.  If you want one that can travel both indoors and out, you may want to look at electric mobility powered wheelchairs. They are for another article.  The outdoor mobility scooters have a few more options and features.  First, the fold-ups are nice if you can lift them in and out of the car.  They usually have a few drawbacks – they are less comfortable, they usually won’t travel as far, and have much less power for steeper hills.  The advantage of the fold-ups are lighter weight, easier to transport, and can be stored easier as well.  The less portable scooters usually need some sort of tailgate lift to transport them.  If you can afford it, I recommend a powerful scooter with a comfortable seat plus a tailgate lift for your car (or your caregiver’s car).  With that set-up, you can get going to your favorite spots easily with very little effort.

Also, with outdoor scooters, pay attention to your local laws regarding scooter use around roads and also the laws regarding lights on the scooter.

A Word or Two on the Range of Mobility Scooters.

Watch out about what the dealer says about the range, or distance a mobility scooter can travel on a full charge.  These quoted distances come with a few caveats regarding the average weight of the rider, no hills, smooth surfaces, etc.  I would divide whatever number you get by 2.  If they say 30 miles, expect it to only realistically travel about 15 miles – especially as the batteries age.

Mobility Scooter Comfort

If you plan to sit on your scooter for more than 10 minutes at a time – like to go shopping – make sure you get tires that are inflated – not the solid plastic kind.  Also, make sure the seat is padded.  If you have a wider rear-end than most, some models have extra-wide seats.  If you are taller than most people, make sure you have a little extra leg room behind the steering wheel.

Mobility Scooter Accessories

There are a few helpful accessories for scooter – like the shopping basket. Remember, you will need to take things with you – like your purse, keys, etc. The more on-board storage, the better.  Review mirrors can be nice for the outdoor models since you will need to be able to see what’s coming up behind you. Lights are also good for the outdoor models.  Some models have a swiveling seat that makes it easier to get on and off – but make sure it locks in place in both the driving and the un-loading position.  If you’re going to be sitting for a while – like at a ball game or church, a back rest is a big plus too.

I hope this helps,

TJ

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