As you get older and you begin to lose your health and mobility, it can be extremely difficult saying goodbye to your old freedom and independence. This is rarely felt stronger than when making “routine” trips to the shops. This basic human need is now something that often requires the assistance of others, and that can be a hair-raising experience even then. While many aspects of your independence may have been eroded, this is the part that stings the most in many cases.
But what defines your us is how we cope with adversity. And there are two ways you can react to this painful situation. Either, you can bask in the injustice of it all and stubbornly refuse to accept your current situation, or you can adapt and continue. If you choose to do the latter, then the next step for you is to invest in a mobility scooter.
Mobility Scooter Basics
A mobility scooter is essentially a small vehicle that can legally be driven on the pavement and often even around stores. This works a little like a wheelchair, but with a different purpose: to help you travel longer distances without manually propelling yourself around at every step.
While you will still struggle with access and mobility in some areas: getting over stairs is impossible, and crowded sidewalks can be a nightmare; you will find that you now have the ability to travel much further than you previously could, and with no risk of falling and injuring yourself.
But of course, in order for this to be a successful purchase, you need to choose the right mobility scooter for you.
With so many different options on the market, this can be a somewhat daunting and confusing process. Then there’s the slight issue of cost: as this is also a somewhat pricey investment given that you’re essentially buying a very small car!
So, what do you need to know?
Mobility and Practicality
The first thing to consider is the size of the model, as well as the top speed. While you might think that a faster model will be more liberating, the truth is that this can prevent you from being allowed on the pavement. For that reason, it’s important to ensure you do your research first, and find out what types of vehicles are permitted in your state or country. Conversely though, slower scooters may not be able to go on the road.
In some areas, scooters are divided into classes, with a “Class 2” scooter being treated different from a “Class 1” scooter.
Another consideration is whether the scooter can fold into your trunk or not. Some scooters can be folded and stowed easily in a car, only to then be expanded once you arrive at your destination. This can greatly enhance the usability, as it means you can now visit other destinations and explore those areas.
Of course, larger and more powerful scooters also often cost more: though this can also be greatly influenced by the inclusion of extra features (or the lack thereof).
If you do opt for a folding “trunk scooter,” then you should research just how easy it will be to handle that folding. If the folding requires a lot of effort and strength, then it might not be something you’re able to do on your own. The weight is also a factor at this point.
Ideally, you want a scooter that can be easily lifted out of the trunk/boot and then assembled with one hand. That said, depending on your level of disability, it may be that you would be unable to assemble any scooter on your own. In that case, you may not consider this factor quite as strongly.
Likewise, if your scooter is a trunk scooter that can be folded, then you might decide that you don’t need one fast enough to go on the road and vice versa. There is no single “right scooter,” the answer will depend very much on your intended use-cases and your current level of ability.
Before investing lots of money into a scooter, it is highly important that you also research the max weight. The last thing you want to do, is to buy a scooter and then learn that it is unable to take your weight. Remember as well that you may wish to add shopping or other items to your load as well. Likewise, it is always possible that you may gain or lose weight over time.
How to Save Money on Scooters
When it comes to getting a mobility scooter for less, there are a number of factors to consider.
The first, is that yes you can get a mobility scooter second hand! This means that you can save a lot of money versus buying one brand new, and there are very few downsides to choosing to go this route. While you should always put your safety first, a scooter is a durable investment that should be able to survive multiple owners. If you are concerned about the health of the device though, read the manual, check the history of owners, and consider getting it checked over by a mechanic.
Another point to bear in mind, is that you might be able to get financial help when choosing your scooter. This could come in the form of a grant, or perhaps a VAT or tax break. This is an investment you need to maintain your current quality of life, and with that in mind, it’s not simply a luxury. Governments, charities, and many other organizations should be able to help.
Remember that a scooter is a little like a car in that it will require upkeep. That includes the occasional service, replacement parts, and more. This can cost more or less depending on the availability of said parts (an argument for getting a newer product), as well as the nature of the machine. Read reviews to ensure that the one you are investing in is relatively repairable. Ideally, you also want a scooter that isn’t prone to breaking down in the first place!
Finally, think about fuel. Mobility scooters can be either gas or electric, and this is going to have a big impact on the running costs1. Electric scooters are not only more energy efficient, but they also let you charge them from home, thereby removing the need to spend money on fuel (this also helps you from a practical standpoint, and it’s good for the environment too). If you plan on driving your scooter on the road, you might find that gas is in some ways more convenient. But for the most part: choose electric.