How Many Homes Have Mobility Accessories?

Updated:

How many homes have mobility accessories?

Mobility aids can help reduce pain and increase confidence. A mobility aid can be beneficial both temporarily and long-term, and the choice of device depends on the user’s needs. Some conditions and cases where individuals might leverage mobility aids include: arthritis, cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities, difficulty maintaining balance, fractures and broken bones in the lower limbs, gout, heart or lung issues, injury to the legs, feet, or back, obesity, spina bifida, strokes, and visual impairment.10 There are a variety of mobility aids available that can help individuals get around with assurance.  

Key Insights

  • The U.S. personal mobility market, which consists of scooters, walking aids, and wheelchairs, was $3.2B in 2021.
  • Mobility aids, including canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters, are most commonly used by adults over the age of 65. According to the United States National Health and Aging Trends Study, 24.1% of adults in this age group reported using at least one mobility device.
  • Canes are the most common mobility aid used by adults over the age of 65. According to the United States National Health and Aging Trends Study, 16.4% of adults over 65 used canes, accounting for 5.8 million adults. 
  • A total of 13.4% of Americans have a disability. The number of individuals reporting a disability increases with age; 24.3% of Americans ages 65 to 74 reported a disability, while 45.9% of Americans older than 75 reported a disability.  
  • The mobility aid market is expected to grow due to the aging population, as disabilities are more prevalent in aging demographics. Ambulatory difficulties were the most notable disability reported by all Americans and increased with age, affecting 14.7% of individuals ages 65 to 74 and 29.7% of people over the age of 75.

Home Mobility Accessory Statistics

The U.S. personal mobility device market comprising scooters, walking aids, and wheelchairs totaled $3.2B in 2021, up 6.7% from $3.0B in 2020, according to Grand View Research. Wheelchairs accounted for 44.7% of the market in 2021, totaling $1.4B, with manual wheelchairs leading in market share due to their low cost and non-dependability on charging. Manual wheelchairs are also available in a variety of configurations, such as collapsible frames, and weights ranging from ultra-lightweight to standard. From 2023 to 2030, the projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the U.S. personal mobility market is 7.0%.  A growing aging population, increased product development, a rising number of accidents causing disabilities, and cases of chronic diseases are the major factors contributing to market growth.

According to the 2022 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, 13.4% of Americans have a disability.  The number of individuals reporting a disability increases with age; 24.3% of Americans ages 65 to 74 reported a disability, while 45.9% of Americans older than 75 reported a disability.

The most prevalent disability type across all age groups was ambulatory difficulty, affecting 20.9 million people, or 6.7% of the total population. This was most notable in those over 65, with ambulatory difficulties affecting 14.7% of individuals ages 65 to 74, and 29.7% of people over the age of 75. An ambulatory difficulty means it is difficult for one to walk or climb stairs.

As the older population grows, the demand for personal mobility devices will continue to increase. In 2022, the number of Americans over the age of 65 accounted for 17.3% of the total population, up from 13.3% in 2000. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2030, this will increase to 20.8%, creating a larger market for mobility aids.

In fact, by 2030, all baby boomers will be older than 65, and by 2034, older adults will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history.

Mobility Accessory Types

There are a variety of mobility accessories available today. Technological advances offer an increasing range of options, such as advanced mobility scooters, lightweight wheelchairs, automated rollators, and segways.

Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs are ideal for those who cannot walk or should not put weight on their lower limbs. Manual wheelchairs are propelled either by the user’s arms or being pushed from behind by another person. Electric wheelchairs allow individuals to move long distances without relying on one’s own strength or being pushed by an attendant. There are three types of electric wheelchairs: an indoor model for use around the home and other spaces with smooth surfaces, an outdoor model with larger wheels to navigate uneven terrain and an indoor/outdoor hybrid model.

Electric Scooters

These battery-powered mobility scooters require users to sit and use a steering wheel to control the direction, with their feet resting on foot plates. Scooters can have three to five wheels, and may be useful for individuals who cannot use manual wheelchairs. When choosing a scooter, one should evaluate their needs and how the device will be used. Consider factors such as the types of errands, terrains, and distances one will need to navigate, in addition to budget, portability, weight, size, and storage.

Canes

Canes can support up to 25% of the body’s weight and are useful for those at risk of falling or with balance problems. Tripod and quad canes are designed with wider bases for greater stability. In addition to providing more support, these canes also remain standing upright, which can be advantageous as the user does not have to risk falling trying to bend over to pick it up as they would with a standard cane. Forearm canes provide extra support by allowing the user to place one’s forearm in a cuff while holding onto the cane handle.  Seated canes have small seats that allow users to sit and rest as needed.

Walking Frames

Also known as walkers or Zimmer frames, these mobility aids have a three-sided metal framework with four legs that provide stability to the user and can bear up to half of the user’s weight. Walkers are available in a variety of styles, including with or without wheels, a knee rest, and a frame that can be folded for easy transport and storage.

Grab Rails

Also known as grab bars, these provide leverage and support to reduce the risk of falls and injury around the home. Grab rails are often installed around stairs, the bath or shower, and the front door. Grab rails are available in different shapes, sizes, and materials, including wood, metal, and plastic.

Most Common Mobility Accessories

Nearly one in ten adults over 65 reported using two or more mobility devices, a total of 9.3% of adults in this demographic.
Mobility devices or aids (including canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters) are commonly used by adults over the age of 65, with 24.1% of adults in this age group reporting using at least one device, according to the United States Health and Aging Trends Study sourcing the U.S. Census Bureau data.

Canes are the most common mobility aid used by adults over the age of 65 according to the United States Health and Aging Trends Study sourcing the U.S. Census Bureau data; 16.4% of this population used canes, accounting for 5.8 million adults. 

Walkers ranked second, with 11.6% of adults over 65 reporting using them, totaling 4.1 million people. Wheelchair users made up 6.1% or 2.1 million people, and there were 815,000 scooter users, representing 2.3% of adults over 65. 

According to the study, mobility aid usage increased with age, and usage rates jumped significantly as individuals reached ages 85 and older.

Maintaining Mobility Accessories

Maintaining mobility aids with regular cleaning, servicing, and repairs can help extend their lifespan. Proper maintenance is also important for personal safety. These include weekly, monthly, and annual maintenance checks both at home and with professionals to ensure that one’s mobility aids are working correctly.

Weekly At-Home Maintenance:

  • Clean: Use a mild detergent and a damp cloth to wipe down your mobility device. Focus on the areas that come into contact with one’s body.
  • Check the Tire Pressure: This is important for wheelchairs and scooters, as unsuitable tire pressure can cause overheating within the motor and make manual wheelchairs more difficult to push. Give the tires a squeeze if a tire pressure gauge is not available.
  • Check Spokes and Wheel Locks: Check for broken wheel locks, test the locks, and make adjustments with help if necessary.

Monthly At-Home Maintenance:

  • Clean: Perform a thorough cleaning every month.
  • Wax: Wax the frame of the wheelchair or scooter to help protect the paint and prevent the buildup of dirt. There are specialty waxes for wheelchairs, but bike and car waxes also work well.
  • Check Wheel Alignment: Create a straight line on the ground and set wheelchairs up 6 inches away from the line. Give the chair a push, and allow it to coast forward. For scooters, shift forward until it has moved 15 feet and determine if there is any change in the distance between the device and the line. If either is out of line, visit a wheelchair repair professional who can help with adjustments. 
  • Check Bolts and Screws: Identify and tighten any loose bolts or screws on the device. 
  • Make Fit Adjustments: Make any adjustments to the footrest and back cushion, and replace any cushions and covers as needed.

Annual Professional Maintenance:

  • Inspection: A professional will test each component of one’s wheelchair or scooter to ensure that it is working properly, which can help them identify and fix issues quickly.
  • Required Maintenance: After inspection, the technician will suggest maintenance based on their findings which may include replacing tires, brakes, wheels, and footrests. 
  • Deep Cleaning: The annual appointment is a good time to have one’s mobility aid sanitized and deep cleaned by a professional.

Mobility Accessory Cost

Wheelchairs: Manual wheelchairs cost between $100 to $300 on the lower end, with most averaging around $500, while electric wheelchairs can range from $1,200 to $3,000, with some models reaching up to $30,000. 

Wheelchair Lifts: The average cost for a wheelchair lift is $1,500 to $3,000. However, prices vary and may go as high as  $14,000.

Mobility Scooters: Standard mobility scooters range in cost from $1,700 to $3,000. While folding mobility scooters range from $750 to $5,000.

Can My Insurance Cover Personal Mobility Accessories?

Medicare classifies personal mobility accessories as durable medical equipment (DME). In general, Medicare defines DME as equipment that helps with activities of daily living including bed transfers, bathing, toileting, and eating. Medicare covers DME that can withstand repeated use, serves a medical purpose, is appropriate for use in the home, and is likely to last for three years or more. For example, Medicare covers wheelchairs, walkers, power scooters, prosthetics, and orthotics as DME. 

Medicare or Medicare Advantage will cover DME if the following two conditions are met:

  1. Primary care provider (PCP) signs an order, prescription, or certificate. The order should specify:
    • Your health makes it difficult to move around the home without the help of a walker or a cane.
    • It is difficult to perform daily living activities (such as bathing and dressing) in the home.
    • You cannot use a manual wheelchair or scooter but can safely use a power wheelchair or scooter.
    • The wheelchair will help with a specific medical condition or injury and can be used in the home.
    • You met with the doctor no more than 45 days before the prescription was written.
  1. Take your prescription to a supplier with a Medicare or Medicare Advantage plan. 

DME is covered under Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage. The plan pays 80% after the deductible, and the patient pays 20% for suppliers that are under the Medicare assignment. For suppliers outside of the Medicare assignment, the plan pays 80% after the deductible, and the patient pays 20% plus any additional supplier costs. 

Medicare does not cover equipment that is mainly used outside the home. For example, if one is able to navigate their home and other short distances, Medicare will not cover a motorized scooter that is only needed outside of the home. Medicare also does not cover equipment that is used for comfort or convenience, including stairway elevators, grab bars, air conditioners, and toilet seats. Medicare does not cover items that are thrown away after use or not used with equipment, or modifications to your home.

FAQ

How many homes have mobility accessories?

About 24.1% of adults 65 and older report using at least one mobility device, and nearly one in ten adults over 65 report using two or more mobility devices. Canes are the most common mobility aid used by adults over the age of 65. 

What is the best mobility aid for weak legs?

A cane is used for stability and helps with balance while walking or standing. The purpose is to act as a support for weak legs. You can start with a basic cane, and if you need more support you can advance to a tripod or quad cane with three or four feet.

How do I choose between a cane and a walker?

The decision between a cane and a walker depends on how much support you need and where you need the support. If you have pain or weakness in both legs or hips, a walker will provide more support. There are many options for walkers, including ones with two wheels or three-wheeled walkers (rollators). If you have mild balance problems, leg weakness, or mild sensory changes (such as changes in vision and hearing), a cane may be more appropriate. Similarly, there are a range of cane options, from the basic cane to those with multiple feet for more balance.  

How do I know if it is time to get a mobility aid?

Here are twelve signs that you may need a mobility aid:

  1. Falls
  2. Fatigue/exhaustion
  3. Pain
  4. Breathlessness
  5. Afraid of walking
  6. Tripping
  7. Weakness
  8. Dizziness and losing balance
  9. Loss of sensation
  10. Staying in
  11. Recent injury
  12. Relying on others

Sources

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Accessibility in Housing: Findings from the 2019 American Housing Survey,” US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. Evaluated February 7, 2024

Grand View Research. “Personal Mobility Devices Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Product,” Grandview Research. Evaluated February 7, 2024

Americans with Disabilities Act, US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division “ADA Requirements: Wheelchairs, Mobility Aids, and Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices,” ADA.gov. Evaluated February 8, 2024

Agespace “Guide to Mobility Aids,” Agespace. Evaluated February 8, 2024

Green, A. “How Much Does Mobility Equipment Cost?” Myreferencetools.com. Evaluated February 9, 2024

Medicare. “Coverage of Power Wheelchairs and Scooters,” Medicare.org. Evaluated February 7, 2024

Grand View Research. “Wheelchair Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report by Product (Manual, Electric),” Grand View Research. Evaluated February 7, 2024

Taylor, D. “Americans with Disabilities: 2014,” US Census Bureau. Evaluated February 12, 2024

Mobility City “Electric Scooter and Wheelchair Maintenance Checklist” Mobility Checklist. Evaluated February 12, 2024

Medical News Today. “What Types of Mobility Devices Are Available” Medical News Today. Evaluated February 13, 2024

HealthinAging.Org “Tip Sheet: Choosing the Right Cane or Walker” HealthinAging.org. Evaluated February 13, 2024

Rowe, D. “What is the Difference Between a Walking Stick and a Cane?” Mobility Deck Evaluated February 13, 2024

Mobility City. “What are the Best Mobility Aids for Walking” Mobility City. Evaluated February 13, 2024

Stepko, B. “Choosing a Walker or Cane” AARP. Evaluated February 13, 2024

Mobility Heaven “12 Signs You May Need a Mobility Aid Now” Mobility Heaven. Evaluated February 13, 2024

Smith, A. “How Much Does a Wheelchair Cost?” Mobility Medical Supply. Evaluated February 13, 2024

U.S. Census Bureau “American Community Survey” US Census Bureau 2022. Evaluated February 13. 2024

U.S. Census Bureau “National Population by Characteristics: Tables” U.S. Census Bureau. Evaluated February 13. 2024

Gell, N. Mobility Device Use Among Older Adults and Incidence of Falls and Worry About Falling: Findings From the 2011–2012 National Health and Aging Trends Study National Library of Medicine. Evaluated February 13. 2024

Advertising Disclosure

We may earn money from our partners when you click a link, complete a form or call a phone number.

We believe everyone deserves to make thoughtful, informed purchase decisions. As a result, we provide our buyers guides and local guides free for consumers. We may receive compensation from our partners. However, Retirement Living independently researches companies, and the compensation we receive does not affect the analysis of our staff. Retirement Living will not include companies on our guides that do not meet our quality standards. The compensation we receive from our partners may impact how and where companies appear on our site, including the order in which they appear. As an Amazon Associate Retirement Living earns from qualifying purchases.

Retirement Living independently researches companies, and we use editorial discretion to award companies with special recognition (i.e. Great Value) based on our staff's judgment. We do this to help you identify companies that will meet your specific buying needs, and we do not receive compensation for these designations.

Get Insider Access

Get special offers, advice and tips from Retirement Living delivered to your inbox.

Get Insider Access

Get special offers, advice and tips from Retirement Living delivered to your inbox.