Caregivers Guide to Mobility Scooters
by Reg Hardy
When my wife signed up to be my caregiver (actually she probably never dreamed it) 40 years ago, she was doing well to drive her own car let alone get involved with mobility challenge issues.
She never gave a thought to what it might be like to break down a mobility scooter, or hoist the parts into the trunk of a car.
When one signs on to be a caregiver for another, spouse or not, it is not with the idea you will be gaining a daily exercise routine or becoming the means to an end in solving walking disabilities.
You probably never thought of becoming any kind of an ADA whistle-blower or taking on a counteragent role with city officials.
Few pay much attention to the fact it is the caregiver, In my case, my wife, who also gives care, i.e. maintenance to her charge’s mobility scooter which my MS has brought into my usage just to get around. It's a fatigue issue.
My wife found she needed to be prepared to bench press the basic four items seat, batteries, wheel-mounted motor and scooter-base/tiller mechanism, normally into the trunk for say, a trip to the mall. She will also be responsible for the unloading along with the loading and unloading for each subsequent stop.
Not a big deal you say? I have been there unloading and loading my own scooter. It is not so much the lifting, but it is the forward thrust of the piece to get it into the back of the trunk. Mother’s know, holding a nine-pound baby at arm’s length for any length of time can be excruciating. Now double or triple that weight, when it comes to the motor/wheels, you are talking 50 pounds, even with a small scooter.
It is also a lesson I learned in "boot camp" an M-1 rifle tipped the scales at a mere nine-and-a-half pounds. Holding it is a piece of cake until you are standing in front of a drill sergeant who orders you to balance it on you finger tips, 90-degrees to the body until he says you can lower it, or worse still returns from a trip to the can.
The point is, you need to be ready to deal with this. There is really no reason your travelling companion, handicapped as he might be, can’t assist. Two people involved in the lifting makes the job go easier and gives the man a sense of being involved, not just along for the ride.
Granted, you don’t need a driver’s license or registration for a mobility scooter, but cell phones for rider and caregiver should be mandatory.
When it comes to trekking through a mall, men are seldom drawn to dress shop after dress shop. Their interests lie elsewhere. Now, aboard the scooter, he can be anywhere in the mall in a matter of minutes. And often at two or three times the speed of walkers. Separation is a given.
In case of a problem, instant communication between caregiver and her companion needs to be instantaneous.