At what point should an elderly parent, prone to falls, go from walker to scooter? After they take a hard fall that kills them? This is a vexing situation, a slippery-slope dilemma that many mature adults face with their elderly parents.

At some point, the elderly person who’s at risk for falling needs to transition to a scooter – not because they can’t ambulate with a walker, but because even with a walker, they are at high risk for falling.

Also, the problem with a walker in unstable elderly users is that it has a way of luring them into using a cane every so often.

Using a cane is great for people who’ve been walking around WITHOUT ANY assistance, and have finally realized they should use a cane.

But going from the much-needed walker to a cane is just begging for a fall.

An elderly person on a walker who sometimes uses a cane (e.g., they don’t want to bother getting the walker out of the car trunk when they go out to eat; or, they feel no need to use a walker to move from the car door to the house entrance) may feel they are not ready for a scooter.

Objections by Elderly Person Refusing to Use Scooter

“My legs will quickly atrophy if I’m sitting all the time.”
Point out that they’re ALREADY sitting so much, that the additional sitting from a scooter will not accelerate atrophy.

Tell them that leg exercises, done while lying in bed, will help slow down atrophy – which (point this out) has already been in process.

“I can’t afford a scooter.”
They range from under $550 to $1,999 and more, but really, that $1,999 EW 36 Mobility Scooter looks more like a miniature motorcycle.

Many elderly people who refuse to go from walker to scooter can easily afford the cheaper scooters.

Furthermore, insurance plans may help cover the cost!

My father, who’s at risk for falls and uses a walker, balks at the price of a scooter, yet recently sold his baby grand piano for $40,000. He wasted no time dropping $1,800 on a small piano.

If your elderly parent says they can’t afford a scooter, you’ll want to seriously question this affirmation.

“The house won’t accommodate it.”
Scooters are designed to fit through common doorways. They are not wheelchairs.

However, a trio of steps that lead to the garage, for instance, will have to be converted to a ramp. Well, this is home renovation 101; easy stuff for a good handy man.

If your elderly parents frequently complains of pain when walking (with walker), point out that living life out of a scooter will eliminate a LOT of pain in their life.

The best time to transition from walker to scooter is BEFORE a disastrous fall occurs, BEFORE the individual reaches a point where they are too weak to even use a walker.

If you’re an elderly person who uses a walker, and your kids are urging you to transition to a scooter, what’s holding you back?

• Do you think the scooter will make you look “old” and helpless?
• Do you still think your Superman or Wonder Woman and will always be able to catch yourself in mid-fall?
• Are you waiting till you fall hard to cement and fracture a hip?

“What happens happens.”
This is yet another objection that the worried kids might hear. Here’s how to counter it:

“No, this is NOT a ‘what happens happens’ situation. This situation has a predictable outcome. Decisions you make today will determine what the trajectory or path is.

“That path will either lead to a fall or lead to NO fall. It is very predictable.

“Now, if a meteor falls out of the sky and hits your house, then THAT’S a ‘what happens happens’ situation.

“If you have a heart attack in your sleep or get hit by a bullet by a madman at the grocery store, THOSE are ‘what happens happens’ situations.

“A ‘what happens happens’ situation is 100 percent UNPREDICTABLE and not the result of foolish decisions.

“On the other hand, a fall – even if the victim is elderly and frail – is almost always the result of the WRONG decision (e.g., abandoning the walker while in the kitchen to walk “just a few steps” from table to sink – but then the fall occurs during one of those “few” steps!).

“What do you think your fall risk would be if you were living your life out of a scooter?”

Cite the Alarming U.S. Statistics

• Falls are the No. 1 cause of injuries and fatalities from injuries in seniors.
• Every 19 minutes a senior dies from a fall.
• 25% of seniors fall every year.
• Half of hip fracture patients never regain independent functioning.

I can’t guarantee these tactics will work, but they’re sure worth a shot. There is no shame in going from a walker to a scooter, folks.

Stop putting your kids through hell and just get the doggone scooter! The money will be worth it!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 
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Top image: Shutterstock/Ljupco Smokovski
cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0922-older-adult-falls.html
ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/
uptodate.com/contents/hip-fractures-in-adults