Senior Power Mobility Scooters

Ken Teegardin Written by Ken Teegardin
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver

Getting your mobility back can change your life. Whether you want to spend time with your grandkids, grocery shop, or just cruise your neighborhood's streets, a senior mobility scooter can give you the freedom to go anywhere and do just about anything.

Senior Mobility Scooters

Do I Need a Scooter?
My 85-year-old grandmother can't stand for more than about 15 minutes before her back starts hurting. She has to sit down for an hour before standing up again. This is extremely limiting for her. Does she need a scooter? It would certainly increase her mobility.

The first thing my grandmother should do is get an evaluation from her doctor. An occupational therapist, if you have one, can also conduct an evaluation. You won't need a doctor's evaluation to purchase a scooter unless you want financial assistance from Medicare.

In the evaluation, your arm and leg strength will be tested as well as your balance and posture. Will you have enough arm strength to operate the scooter? Will you be able to hold yourself upright to operate a scooter?

The doctor can then write a prescription for Medicare if you intend to use your coverage.

Medicare and Scooters
According to Medicare's "Wheelchair and Scooter Benefit" clause, a doctor's written order is required for Medicare to consider coverage. This order must say that you medically need a scooter and are able to safely operate one.

Medicare will generally pay 80% of the "approved amount" after you have met the Part B deductible. You would the remaining 20% unless Medicaid (see your state office for coverage) will cover this portion.

You have to meet ALL of the following conditions:

  • You have a health condition that causes difficulty moving around your home.
  • You're unable to do activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, getting out of a chair, etc.) even with the help of a cane, crutch or walker.
  • You're able to safely operate, and get on and off the scooter or have someone with you who is always available to help you safely use the device.
  • The scooter must be usable within your home.

Other Financing Options
If Medicare is not a payment option for you, there are other options. The stores that sell scooters often have financing plans available. Also, private insurance policies sometimes cover a percentage of the cost.

Questions before Shopping
If you're thinking of buying a scooter, here are some questions to consider before shopping:

  • What are your physical needs for using the scooter? E.g., do you need a power lift chair?
  • What are your height, weight and hip-to-hip measurements?
  • Will you be using the scooter indoors, outdoors or the combination?
  • Do you have a steep driveway, sidewalk, or roads?
  • Will you ever operate it where there's snow or ice?
  • Will you ever operate it on dirt paths?
  • How will you transport it? Truck, van, car, outside of one of these vehicles?
  • Will you have to "break down" the scooter to fit in your vehicle?
  • Will you need ramps, wider doorways, etc. when operating the scooter at home?
  • How will you be paying for it?

Types of Scooters
Part of this equation will emerge based on how you answered the above questions. If you search online, you'll see a dizzying array of options on places like The Scooter Store. Before we get to specifics, let's look at the two basic categories of scooters.

Power Chairs

  • Are the most maneuverable for indoors
  • Can be used outdoors
  • Tip resistant
  • Extremely comfortable seats
  • Joystick control
  • Price range from $2,000-$10,000

Mobility Scooters

  • Ideal for extended outdoors use
  • Less maneuverable indoors than a power chair
  • Lots of options available (e.g. extended battery, oxygen carriers, all-terrain, etc.)
  • Price range from $800 to $9,000
  • Weights from 54 lbs. to 500 lbs.

Considerations for Mobility Scooters
The big question is how will you transport your scooter? Portable scooters can be folded and put in a car's trunk. But this will likely require assistance from a friend or relative.

Large, heavier models need to be lifted by a vehicle lift that attaches to your car, van or truck. These lifts can run as high as $3,000.

Consider other options like swivel seats, reclining seats, flat free tires, long range, adjustable headrests, tight turning radius steering, removable armrests, speed, battery charge,

 Think about long-term use for your scooter. Is it something you can use if your living arrangements change? For instance, if you move to an assisted living facility, how practical will a particular model be? Can you use it in a small apartment? Will it get through most doors?

If you live in a retirement community or assisted living facility, find out their scooter rules first?

What comes standard on the scooter? And is there room for attachments you may need down the road?  E.g. an oxygen attachment.

What kind of warranty comes standard with the scooter? Where and how is service/repairs performed? Do you have to bring in your scooter to the store? Or will they make house calls?

Check customer reviews on a particular model using Not all models are listed but there are dozens of reviews.

For information on other senior mobility options, see our article "Assistive Technology Devices."

Updated: Nov 04, 2011


[8] Comments... Read them below.
Darla Morris On Jun 8, 2014
My husband has rheumatoid arthritis in both knees making it extremely difficultfor him towalk more than 5 minutes before hehas to sitdown. He has the means to pay for a scooter fully equipted..What would the approx.price be ?

alice bailey On Jun 5, 2014
My mother has lost on of her legs and she is not able to push a regular wheelchair her insurance will not cover the cost of a power chair. Me or my sister is can not afford to pay out the money for the chair. I breaks my heart to know that I can not provide this for her can you help me. Alice

Beth On Feb 2, 2014
Are there any exceptions where a power chair with a doctors rmendation can be used mostly outside to be independent as possible. I don't have a car, live alone, am 73, with several heart related and other health issues including bad legs. I could get to dr appts alone without paying cab fare I can't really afford. Thanks

daniel naef On Aug 6, 2013
I am in hospice care and have pulmonary fibrosis, I contacted my secondary insurance for a mini scooter for indoors, (small) and my secondary insurance stated "I need to be evaluated by a physical therapist" in order to be accepted. How do I go about this? I CAN WALK, BUT NOT FAR EXTREMELY OUT OF BREATH, ON OXYGEN WHEN I SIT DOWN I AM FINE, BUT CANNOT WALK

Richard Smith, Jr. On Jun 26, 2012
I have been trying for over a year to get ramps put in so I can go out side, also I have been trying for over a year to get a carrier for my van for my scooter, Medicare paid for my scooter, but from what I was told they will not pay for ramps nor van carriers I need one badly every time I go out to the doc. or to the store I fall, I have fallen about 6 times this month, one of these time I will not be getting back up, can any one help me or send me some were that will or something, they can rise over 1.5m for a lady that got harassed on a school buss but I cant get a ramp and carrier for less then 1,000 that's bad, for people like me that has so much problems. thank you for the time on reading this

Robert Paige On May 10, 2012
With the advances in technology for mobility scooters, there are many options that can make these scooters not only more comfortable, but more portable/mobile in addition to affordable.

Ann Wolman On Dec 15, 2011
My Grandmother has a scooter and it has been great. A lot less complaining about the pain in her legs. She doesn't always drive around with big smile on here face like in the commercials but it is a step up.

J Thompson On Dec 15, 2011
Scooters seem to be a great solution for many seniors but the hard part must be getting it in and out of the car. If you can't walk with out a scooter, it must be really difficult to load it in a vehicle. The only time I have seem someone loading a care, it was the spouse of a limited mobility senior.