How Electric Wheelchairs and Mobility Scooters Are Changing Seniors’ Life?

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Written By Usman Raza

For the seniors, scooter amenities like powerful motors and comfortable seats can mean a whole new experience of independence and freedom around the house, throughout the neighborhood, streets, and beyond.

In fact, electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters are allowed in shops, public footpaths, buses, and anywhere else that pedestrians are permitted. Even some models are suitable for air travel.

That is why more and more senior people are realizing the benefits of using electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters. According to the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, in the early 2000s, only 142,000 Americans over age 65 used mobility scooters to help them get around.

About a decade later, that number flew up to 815,000, according to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. That study finds out that, on average, roughly 2 percent of U.S. seniors are using mobility scooters.

Later in this article, you’ll discover two different basic types of electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters you can choose and what factors you should consider when buying one. You’ll also learn what benefits you can expect from your scooter.

Basic Types of Mobility Scooters

Motorized Scooters for Elderly People Easy Guide [2021]Did you get in trouble or more than that while walking around for a short amount of time? If yes, a medical scooter may be the solution you need.

But to select the one that is right for you, you need to understand your options. There are two basic types of electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters:

1. Three-wheeled scooters

Three-wheeled models have one centered wheel in the front and two wheels in the back. They work best on the smooth and same-level ground. Their tight and smooth turning radius makes it easy to steer indoors and in crowded spaces.

These scooters offer more legroom area than the four-wheeled scooters. They are a good option for seniors having tall legs or any leg or knee problems. They also tend to be low-weight and less expensive than four-wheeled scooters.

However, three-wheeled scooters are not as stable as four-wheeled scooters, and they are generally not great on grass or gravel;

2. Four-wheeled scooters

Four-wheeled models look like mini cars, with two wheels in the front and two in the back. They provide better stability and more weight distribution on different types of terrain, including grass, hills, curbs, and dirt.

However, they require more space to turn, which makes them a little hard to steer. They are also heavier than three-wheeled scooters, and they cost a little more.

Within each of the above two categories, you can find scooters that are labeled as “compact” or “travel” models. These are designed differently to come apart or fold down to fit into a vehicle trunk, aircraft cargo, or even a closet.

They are mostly lightweight and have safety features such as leak-proof batteries that make them easier for transport. However, they might not be super comfortable or fully relate to your size.

Some three-wheeled or four-wheeled electric scooters models are “heavy duty”, which means they can support the extra weight. They tend to have large seats and adjustable armrests. However, these models might be too big to fit through doorways or indoors.

Keep in mind that an electric or mobility scooter is not the same thing as an electric wheelchair. Mobility scooters or motorized wheelchairs are high-tech machines that are specially designed for people who have mobility problems in both their upper and lower bodies.

These electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters come with a wide range of seating positions that are controlled by joysticks. These joysticks can be operated by hand, eye, or mouth movements. They are normally more expensive than simple wheelchairs or scooters.

What to Look For in a Motorized Scooter for Elderly People?

Motorized Scooters for Elderly People Easy Guide [2021]A senior scooter can be a big investment, so you have to make sure you weigh all the suitable factors. Here are some important things to consider while shopping for a scooter for seniors:

1. Intended use

Do you want a scooter to help you get around your home? If so, it is important to get one that can make sharp and fast turns.

Are you looking for a scooter that can take you around the neighborhood or through the streets? If that is the case, you’ll probably want a model that can handle curbs or hills. Different models are designed for different uses, so make sure to choose one that’s meant for your daily needs and what you want to do.

2. Comfort

If your seat is too hard, your legs get too cramped, or you can’t easily reach the controls, that scooter will not be useful for you. Comfort can be highly important for you if you have back issues, joint problems, or any type of disability.

Modern scooters often let you arrange the height of the seat as per your body, but some models feature wider seats, adjustable backs, extra padding, and armrests. Some advanced models even come with headrests and seats that recline.

3. Capacity

Make sure the scooter’s weight limit can assist you as well as anything else you plan to carry (such as oxygen tanks, extra batteries, or shopping items). Most scooters are designed to hold around 250 and 300 pounds, but some heavy-duty models can even handle up to 500 pounds. 

4. Portability

If you want to transport your scooter in a vehicle, consider how easy it can be to take it apart and put it back together. While buying, find out how many components you have to put apart and how much each piece weighs.

You may want a model that folds down rather than completely disassembles. Keep in mind that some heavier models neither come apart nor fold.

5. Battery life and operating range

How far do you want to go before recharging? Typically, normal scooters can go 10 to 15 miles before running out of power, but some lower models can only make 7 miles and some higher models can go 25 miles or more.

If you are just gonna use your scooters to get around the house or for short trips, a limited operating range may be fine. But if you plan to use it for tours and long outside trips, you have to make sure that the battery will last that long.

Be aware that any scooter’s battery timing will change depending on how many hills it climbs and how much weight it carries.

6. Turning radius

The lower the turning radius, the easier it’ll be to make a U-turn or move around tight corners. That is particularly important if you want to use your scooter indoors. Most modern scooters have a turning radius between 33 and 55 inches.

As mentioned earlier, a three-wheeled model has a lower turning radius than the four-wheeled model. However, a three-wheeled scooter has more chances of tipping over.

7. Controls

The steering column you see at the front of the scooter is called the tiller. Some scooters have T-shaped tillers with bicycle-type handlebars that include separate thumb levers for forwarding and backward motion control.

Other scooters have delta tillers, which come with D-shaped handles that provide you some extra space to rest your wrists. If you have limited dexterity or poor hand strength, a delta tiller is the best option for you.

8. Speed

The top speed of most modern scooters is somewhere between 4 and 5 mph. The slowest ones have about 3 mph, that is how fast an average person walks. That type is fine for an indoor scooter.

Some fast models can go 10 mph or more, which is more practical for outdoor travel. But if you are worried about losing control or have balance issues, you should get a scooter that doesn’t go that fast. Most models come with the feature to set a maximum speed limit for safety.

9. Maximum incline

This feature tells you how much of an angle the scooter can climb while having all of its wheels on the ground. Most typical scooters can generally handle inclines between 6 and 12 degrees.

A scooter that has the stability to handle steeper angles will be more useful on varied outdoor ground. (Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, commercial ramps can’t go above a 5-degree incline, so all scooters should be able to navigate them.

How Much Does Electric Wheelchairs and Mobility Scooters Cost?

Motorized Scooters for Elderly People Easy Guide [2021]Modern electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters cost anywhere between $700 to $5,000, depending on their features. That might seem high, but keep in mind that an average electric wheelchair can cost as high as $15,000.

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to purchase a scooter right now. You can rent a mobility scooter for some time for your trips or some events.

Some companies offer high-quality electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters that can really help you in your trip or event. The rent normally ranges from $20 to $60 per day.

Conclusion

Whether you are looking for a mobility scooter or an electric wheelchair, the information mentioned above will definitely help you choose a model that works best for you.

Electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters both have their different features, comfort, and price. Now it is up to you to decide which model better suits your needs and provides you more freedom and independence to move around the world, the way you want.

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