Mobility scooters – bad for your health?
As older people start to have difficulties with walking, some choose to use a mobility scooter to help them move around. However, new research suggests mobility scooters could do more harm than good for some users. ExtraCare Trustee Kathryn Sallah and Wellbeing and Community Manager Shirley Hall look at the possible health effects and what the Charity can do to help.
Benefitting from improved design, mobility scooters are becoming an increasingly popular device to support older people with health or mobility problems.
However, whilst mobility scooters may help to improve your quality of life, it is also possible that the sedentary nature of their usage could result in a decline of physical functionality and therefore reduced capabilities.
So far, there has been little research around the use of scooters and the longer term effects on health.
However, new research suggests mobility scooters could do more harm than good for some users by increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. It may also cause some older people to lose their mobility as they reduce their levels of physical activity.
Here at ExtraCare, mobility scooters are always a ‘hot topic’.
Residents have always been informed they can buy and use a scooter as long as they adhere to our policy and have insurance. Some of our larger Villages are far more spread out and those with mobility problems may resort to a scooter. Or someone may have health problems such as a stroke, or have had surgery that limits their mobility as well as many other conditions and will therefore purchase a scooter.
At ExtraCare, we pride ourselves in supporting healthy lifestyles and aiding activity for health; therefore over the coming year we will be exploring how we can best support our residents in their decision as to the best time to acquire a mobility scooter.
Some residents are already voicing concerns about mobility scooters, and we are hearing a lot of questions, including:
- Is it a fire risk having so many scooters in corridors?
- Will there be more damage to properties?
- Will residents be more at risk from scooter injury?
- What will happen if most residents have scooters one day?
We are asking questions too, related to the health and well-being of our residents.
- Should we actively discourage residents using a scooter, and try and encourage them to maintain their mobility for longer?
- Can we better support residents who are thinking about getting a scooter by reviewing their health and wellbeing first?
- Should we explore possible alternatives on how to maintain joint mobility and healthy living, including through diet?
- Do we have a duty of care to encourage residents to simply rent or borrow a scooter for a short period if needed after major illness or ill health, and ensure they are receiving rehabilitation where appropriate?
Over the coming year we will, with the help of our residents, be working towards improving our scooter policy to support older people to maintain their mobility, health and independence for longer.
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Contact Shirley Hall, ExtraCare’s Wellbeing and Community Manager, on firstname.lastname@example.org
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