Trading in Car Keys for a Scooter? 5 Signs that It May Be Time

American entertainer Bette Midler once quipped, “After thirty, a body has a mind of its own.” After I passed that milestone birthday, I realized she wasn’t kidding! And it gave me even more sympathy for my parents, who recently passed milestone birthdays of their own.


My siblings and I have been hounding our dad about his driving skills since about the time he turned thirty. But lately our comments are based less on jesting and more on the fact that he is constantly making slight errors while behind the wheel.


The errors were not only increasing, but they were becoming increasingly more serious. He would always have a ready excuse such as being distracted by the ringing of his cell phone, or have someone to blame like those pesky pedestrians in the crosswalk.


The Elderly and Their Ability to Operate a Motor Vehicle


None of us realized how bad it really was until last winter when he backed his car out of the driveway and into the path of a police cruiser! Fortunately the officer stopped in time, but there could have been serious damage. The incident was a real wakeup call about dad’s health.


The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute ( reports that some of the things that may impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle include:


  • Deteriorating vision, especially after dark or during other times of low visibility

  • Difficulty judging speed or distance between theirs and another vehicle

  • Impaired peripheral vision or difficulty turning head due to neck stiffness

  • More frequent episodes of fatigue or episodes of falling asleep behind the wheel

  • Poor control over one’s own muscles or other general range of motion problems


Getting Alternative Mobility Help for Those Who Cannot Drive


Finally my dad admitted that the arthritis pain and stiffness in his legs was making it hard to get stopped in time. And his recent loss of peripheral vision wasn’t helping. We set up an appointment with his family doctor.


The appointment with his family doctor led to an appointment with a physical therapist where his arm and leg strength was tested to see if he was strong enough to operate a mobility scooter. Once it was determined that he could, she wrote a prescription for Medicare.


Medicare has a “Wheelchair and Scooter Benefit” clause that requires the person to have a written order from their doctor before they will consider assisting with payment for the scooter. Here are some other things we learned in the process.


  • The doctor’s written order must say that the person is healthy enough to safely operate a scooter, and the scooter must be useable within the person’s home.

  • The person must have a health condition that causes difficulty moving around their home, and unable to take care of daily skills like bathing, dressing, and so forth without the use of a cane or walker.

  • Medicare generally pays up to about 80% of the approved amount, but only after the person meets their deductible.

  • Unless the person qualifies for state Medicaid (which is different than Medicare), the person is responsible for covering the balance due after Medicare’s payment.


Because my dad lives in a small town where everything is within walking distance from his home, a scooter was the perfect answer! Between Medicare, his private insurance, and a generous financing option from the merchant who sold him the scooter, he could afford it on his budget.


Finding the Right Scooter for Your Needs


Some of the things to consider when buying a scooter are the size of the machine. Will it fit through the doorways of your home? Does it break down so you can easily take it along when you travel, whether it is a quick trip to the pharmacy or a family vacation?


Now that my dad has a scooter he says he doesn’t know how he survived before getting one. He can get around the house, scoot through the backyard, or head into town to run errands at the farmer’s market, pharmacy, and his favorite coffee shop. It has done wonders for his social life!


My dad even teases my mom that when her knees and hips give out, he’s going to trade in his wheels for one of the newer two person mobility scooters so they can cruise through town together.


About the Author


Freelance author Benjamin Baker his teenage sons love to check out junk yards for manly relics that they can add to their man cave. But he is not looking forward to the day when he has to use the reviews at for more than just research for the articles he writes! When he is not working, he enjoys playing guitar and fly fishing.


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