Archive for April, 2013

This Scooter Is Definitely Bad For Your Health!

April 24, 2013

(Thanks to Liz TaylorLiz Taylor at for her permission to use this article)

When my dad lived in assisted living, he bought a scooter to get around and about.  It sounded nice, and it was fun to drive.

But he probably wouldn’t have died in a nursing home if he had forced himself to continue the boring chore of walking.

He began riding to everything — the dining room, visiting my mom in memory care, going out to shop, even to the bathroom.  His muscles withered (it’s called “sarcopenia”), and when he fell in the shower a few years later, the muscles in his legs had become so weak, no amount of effort could get him back on his feet again.  He moved to a nursing home solely because he needed two people to transfer him in and out of a wheelchair.

I call it the unintended consequence of letting technology make us lazy enough to disable us.  While scooters can be lifelines for people who are truly disabled, they can be disastrous for those who don’t need them – and plenty of people who ride them don’t need them.

Worse, Medicare often subsidizes scooters, making them almost free (they cost around $1,500 to $3,500 each), when it’s only supposed to pay for people who truly need them.  Doctors who prescribe them for Medicare reimbursement don’t understand the rules, say the critics, nor do their patients who demand them.

All of this is now coming to a head, I hope.  According to a recent article in The Huffington Post, federal investigators are now looking into the way two of the largest scooter manufacturers are advertising their products in this $1 billion industry.  I’m sure you’ve seen the ads – a happy couple taking in the sights at the Grand Canyon on scooters, or fishing on a pier and high-fiving their grandchildren at a baseball game.

Never mind the hundreds of millions of unnecessary dollars Medicare is wasting.  The greater tragedy is the disability and dysfunction people are bringing on themselves.

Note: The author, Liz Taylor, wrote a popular column on aging in The Seattle Times for fourteen years.  she was primary caregiver for her parents for eight years.  In this article, Liz is not saying that all electric scooter use is harmful.  Rather her argument is that only people who otherwise could not get around should rely on them.  I agree with her.  As always, your comments will be welcomed.      

© Raymond Smith, The Long Term Care Specialist, 2013