To live a full and independent life, one needs to have access to services, goods, activities and other people. This access often involves mobility.
Mobility is defined as the ability to move where and when a person wants. For the baby boomers’ generation, mobility means personal automobile. But as this group ages, there is a growing concern about driving cessation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the “leading edge of the baby boomers reached age 65 in 2011, launching an unparalleled phenomenon in the United States.”
What can be done to assist this generation to maintain independent mobility?
When we age, everything simply slows. We walk not as fast and for just a short distance. Most importantly, we cannot drive as fast. But many older adults can drive, not an automobile though.
Mobility scooter is an option that helps seniors maintains independent mobility. It is starting to be regarded not just as an assistive device for those have trouble walking, but also as an alternative to personal automobile. It helps those with physical limitations such as arthritis.
A study by May et al. found that this assistive device is often used for getting to and from shops and visiting friends and family. The study also showed that this walking aid is used three to five times each week. The study further found that users travelled between two and five kilometers from their home.
Scooters are power-operated vehicles that are controlled via a mechanical tiller system. Some models have three wheels; others have four wheels.
The Prowler 4-wheel mobility scooter, for example, can travel up to 23 miles at a maximum cruising range of 7 miles per hour. This equipment also comes with safety features such as anti-tip wheels, rearview mirrors, a headlight and turn signals.
- Physical requirements
In order to drive this equipment, make sure that you have these physical requirements: you are able to walk even for a short distance; have enough hand and arm strength to operate the tiller steering mechanism; and have a good trunk and balance while sitting.
- Three-wheeled versus four-wheeled
Not all scooters are created equal. Generally, the 4-wheel type is more stable for outdoor use; while the 3-wheel type is better suited for indoor use.
- Traffic rules
Remember that the same traffic rules for pedestrians apply to scooters. As such, ride only on pedestrian areas or sidewalks. Always watch out for cars at the end of sidewalks and obey pedestrian traffic signals.
- Driving circumstances:
Do not drive in any of these situations:
- Muddy, bumpy, snow-covered or narrow road;
- Beside a waterway or canal without hedges or fencing;
- When fatigued;
- After consuming alcohol; and
- During inclement weather or nighttime.