Powerchairs Aren’t Just For Elderly People

pippa in powerchair looking to right and laughing

If you’re new to my blog, hello and a warm welcome! I’m Pippa, I’m from Yorkshire, and I have a rather inconvenient chronic illness. You can find out more about me here, and read my chronic illness story here.

I first became an ambulatory wheelchair user in 2015, when my mobility began decreasing due to my chronic illness. Back then I relied on a transit wheelchair pushed by somebody else, and did my best to make it work for my lifestyle. Fast forward three years, however, and I’ve now made the transition to becoming a part-time powerchair user, and own the Eden Comet power-chair from Eden Mobility.

I have to say, I’m loving the power-chair life so far (and I’ve shared a little about my own experiences over on my Instagram page), but today I wanted to talk about one of the biggest barriers that held me back from making this decision for so long: self-confidence.

wheelchair cover packaging featuring elderly couple on label

It was 18 months ago that I first started considering the possibility of a powerchair, but it was whilst doing my initial research that doubt began to set in. It soon became clear that every design, every bit of equipment, every provider, every little thing I looked at, inherently made the association between powerchairs and… elderly people.

Through brochures and websites, I saw countless older people using these mobility aids and try as I might, I just couldn’t imagine my young adult self in their place. You could call it a vanity issue on my part, but I couldn’t help but feel insecure about the fact that I would soon be using something so apparently marketed at older people: I just didn’t want to be perceived in this way. Even though my need for one was becoming clearer by the day, seeing mobility aids presented like this made me even more reluctant to move forward.

In the end, it was social media that was my saving grace. In the time I’ve been a part of the chronic illness community, many friends of mine have started using powered mobility aids, and doing it in style. It’s been so uplifting to see the #DisabledAndCute and #BabeWithAMobilityAid movement happening online lately, and it was hearing people’s stories and seeing their photos that finally encouraged me to take the leap. My friends’ posts made me see that I wasn’t on my own: they were displaying their aids with confidence, looking fabulous, and most importantly, enjoying the degree of independence that I’ve been missing so badly. And although I’m still not quite there myself yet, I very much aspire to do the same.

screenshot from eden mobility website of an elderly woman modelling powerchair
Image credits: Eden Mobility website

It’s certainly not just elderly people who need disability equipment. People can become disabled or chronically ill at any time in their lives: this isn’t breaking news. So where are the young adults in the marketing of mobility aids? I’ve discussed my own experiences of using mobility aids when you have an invisible illness in the past, but never before has it rung more true.

So, what can we do to encourage change? As a very small drop in the ocean, I decided to enlist the help of some of my wonderful friends whose own experiences had a significant impact on the decision I made. We’ve created a little ‘lookbook’ of our powerchairs and scooters below, and I hope it gives just a small insight into the numerous options available, and how they’ve changed people’s lives. Allow me to introduce…


Rascal P321 from CareCo

natasha stood next to powerchair, wearing pink flowery dress and laughing “It took a really long time for me to become comfortable with the idea of using a wheelchair. When I was younger, my physio used to tell me that I was ‘too stubborn to end up’ using one, and I saw any decline in my health as a personal failure.
When I first sat down in my Rascal, I knew it was the chair for me. It just…suits me…I guess! It’s incredibly comfortable, and doesn’t feel overly ‘medical’, which was really important to me. But most importantly, it has given me a level of freedom I hadn’t anticipated. The fact that I can get within a few seconds of my front door without wanting to cry, is huge. I can go out for a little bit and not have to spend days recovering. I can go to work and feel more like myself, I can go to the supermarket with my boyfriend (something I literally have never been able to do) and go out and not be terrified that someone is gonna injure me. I’m a very fast driver (hehe) and people are now scared of me. Suck it, world!
Of course, living in London (which isn’t exactly the most accessible place in the world) still brings many challenges, but I feel so much freer. It feels amazing to fully accept that using a chair isn’t a weakness. It’s an amazing tool that has given me more options and opportunity. And most importantly, hasn’t made me feel like I’m bloody dying whenever I leave my bed”.


Quantum Q6 Edge 2.0 from Manchester Mobility

shona in powerchair wearing green top and jeans, taking selfie with lady dressed in poo emoji costume“I’ve been a powerchair user for 2 years now, having had 2 different chairs in that time. I received my newest powerchair in February and in the 5 months that I’ve had it my life has become unrecognisable compared to just 6 months ago. I have independence, I can be out of the house all day, I don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to lay down to control my pain, it’s like a whole new world has opened up to me. In just 5 months I’ve already experienced so much, including going to the theatre, doing more charity work and even recently spending 2 days in Oxford visiting the company who make my powerchair, all things that were impossible last year. I feel like I’ve got my life back now and I’m making the decisions now, not my body. There’s no doubt that it’s a scary step to take, but contrary to some people’s beliefs, my powerchair doesn’t hold me back, it lets me join in with life again”.


Kymco Mini LS from Mobility Giant

charlotte wearing a green jacket and sunglasses, on a mobility scooter in front of a large historic building

“Having a scooter has made such a positive impact on my life as it has meant I am finally able to have some independence on the occasions I am well enough to leave the house. Before my scooter, I had to be pushed around in a wheelchair which was tiring for my husband and also made it hard for us to have a proper conversation. Now I can zip alongside him, or even scoot off by myself for a bit without having to rely on someone else to push me there. It has been so liberating and I wouldn’t be without it now.
It can be tricky to know which scooter to go for so I asked my chronic friends for recommendations. I went for a Kymco Mini LS in the end because it is fairly robust, and also breaks into four separate parts so it can easily be stashed in a car boot. The downside is the parts are pretty heavy but as I can’t leave the house without a carer anyway, it’s never really been an issue because there is always someone on hand to do the heavy lifting. I bought a reconditioned scooter as it was much cheaper than buying new. The website offered free delivery and a six month warrantee in case anything goes wrong. I’ve had to have my scooter fixed once since I bought it – my brakes seized up over the winter months when I left it outside for too long without using it so my advice is to make sure you either use it regularly or store it in a garage or shed during times you might not be able to do so”.

Sunrise Medical Quickie Salsa R from NHS Wheelchair Services

emma in powerchair wearing mustard knitted jumper, jeans and boots, in front of brick wall background

“I have a progressive muscle-wasting condition called Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. From around the age of 10 years old, I have been using a wheelchair. After years of using a manual wheelchair, I then began using a powerchair full-time at 18 years old when I was starting college. The decision to use a powerchair gave me the freedom and independence that I needed due to my decreasing ability to self-propel and complex seating needs. I’ve had my current powerchair, the Quickie Salsa R, for 7 years and I love it. It’s extremely compact and great for travelling. The tilt in space function is another feature that I find very beneficial and allows me to change my position and redistribute pressure. It also has over 2 million seating combinations, which is great when I have any changes in my condition and require adjustments to be made to my seating”.


Salsa M2 with adaptations from Altonaids Mobility Ltd

kate dressed formally in powerchair onstage, looking ay mad holding microphone who is presenting her with an award“My wheels have gave me my independence back. I took my first trip down the road by myself to the shop in over half a decade and cried the whole way because I felt so free. Now, it’s helped me achieve so many things, including getting my own assistance dog, and, manage in situations I wouldn’t have managed due to the extreme discomfort when sat for longer periods of time in my manual chair. I got my powerchair made to measure (I am 6’1 and mainly legs!). I have blood pressure problems so needed an automatic tilt feature and I have manually reclining leg rests. I also have a sculpted high backrest for extra support and a memory foam extra thick cushion to help with my leg pain.”

I’d recommend to anyone to jazz your new wheels up to make you feel a bit less self conscious (battery powered lights are my favourite) and always make sure you have insurance because if it breaks down, it can be super expensive!”


Shoprider Altea 4 Compact Scooter from Smart Scooters

sakara on scooter with blanket over knees and head turned away from camera, looking out over a blue lake“I would never have considered a mobility scooter. We thought about investing (thousands of pounds!) in a more manageable wheelchair than my giant NHS model but when I thought of scooters I thought of older people and the impossibility of throwing one into our car boot. That all changed when someone my mum works with offered her a “Shoprider” scooter for me that she no longer needed.
I’ve only had it a few months and -although my parents’ backs wouldn’t agree -it’s a manageable size to take out with us and gives me an amazing sense of responsibility and freedom. I can’t control it on bad M.E. or ‘brain fog’ days but when I do use it the ability to actually loose my parents in a shop or say “See you later!” and zoom off ahead is invaluable and I would definitely recommend hiring one if you get the chance, to see if having one of your own could work for you!”



hannah wearing a summery yellow dress, sunglasses and sandals, sat in her powerchair, with buildings and pavement in background

PW-999UL (Lightest Power Wheelchair) from Foldawheel

“This chair has been the best thing ever. My freedom. I didn’t even knew would exist compared to my manual wheelchair. Suddenly I felt like my world has opened up. It feels more independent, I couldn’t have imagined before.
To wheel walk beside my family and friends is immense. To whizz to something in a shop, as simple as that is a wonderful thing. To not need to rely on someone to push you. I still have the pain the issues but this has changed it all, for that I am truly grateful”.



gem has blonde har and glasses, and is sat in powerchair smiling and looking to the right, wearing a levi's t-shirt. street roads and houses in background

Permobil C500 from Permobil

“I absolutely love my chair and have done since I first used one at the age of 2 years old, it’s part of me and something I feel super confident in. People are shocked to hear that but it’s true.

If there is a fault with my chair and means I have to be out of it even for a couple of hours, not only is my physical independence gone but confidence and mental health is majorly decreased too”.


rosie has short hair and wears glasses. she's sat in her powerchair outside in the garden, wearing a yellow dress and red trainersQuickie Tango (with adaptations) from NHS Wheelchair Services

“Beforehand, I used a manual wheelchair but was too weak to push myself. So, I needed my family and carers to push me around the house.

But, with the electric wheelchair I have so much more independence. And now, I can even think about (part-time) studying my A Levels at college. Simply, it has opened up so many new opportunities”.


So, if there’s anybody out there in a similar position to myself or feeling a similar way, I really hope this goes some way in helping: mobility aids are for everybody, and there’s no need to be self-conscious.

There may not be a great deal of young adult representation in the marketing of powerchairs, but we’re here, and we’re valid: I really hope we see this change in years to come. And in the meantime, you’ll find me whizzing off to the Tesco free-from aisle like some kind of speed-demon at my nifty 4mph, and living my very best life. Biscuits, anybody?

image taken from behind of pippa in powerchair travelling down country path
Pippa: Eden Comet from Eden Mobility

34 Responses

    1. Thanks for reading, Danny! Still working on a subscribe function but you can find my socials linked on my homepage and on my contact page if you’d like to keep up to date. Have a great day!

  1. I’m so glad I saw this post! Really enjoyed reading about everyone and getting to see young chronically ill women being so fabulous as a newly diagnosed fibro warrior 🙂

  2. I asked my doctor about a chair and he told me that they where not mention to ride outside, I have cronic pain and I would like to get out more and without a chair and it’s messing up my quality of life, blessings needed thank you. Your story touched me and now I’m fina get me one if I have to buy it myself

    1. Thanks for sharing this Belinda- if you feel like you need one and have the means to get one for yourself, I can’t recommend it enough. Mine is one of the basic, more affordable models which I got from here: https://www.eden-mobility.co.uk/eden-comet, but there are plenty of others out there too. Good luck and wishing you all the best xx

  3. This gave me the courage to finally take the leap and get a powerchair of my own. Thank you. It’s really hard being a young looking woman and being chronically ill or needing physical assistance of any kind. I think I judge myself just as much, if not more than onlookers. I know I hurt myself all the time because I’ve got too much pride to ask for help. Back when I could get about, I used to spend an awful lot of tube journeys sitting on the floor…

    1. Oh this means the world to me, I’m so glad I could help even just a little bit. I can completely relate too- for me it was always huddling on the ground in the connecting parts of trains because I was too nervous to ask for the priority seats! I hope today’s as kind as possible to you, and thank you for making me smile xx

  4. I’m desperate for a power chair, could probably even afford it with my savings (a generous gift from a relative) but we live out in the sticks and would need at least a new car and probably a hoist – my Mum is unofficially my main carer but has her on health problems. Even a lightweight folding electric chair is too heavy for her to have to deal with. My manual chair is the lightest folding generic model we could find, and she can usually manage it okay but it takes up the whole of the boot space! I’m in that weird inbetween zone of abled enough to walk maybe 50m on a good day, perhaps even 75m if my life depended on it – but not function the other end, and it’s also not enough to function in daily life. Oh well.

    Sorry, I’m rambling because I’m tired. Anyway, young adult wannabe powerchair user here! I borrowed a Pride Jazzy from Shopmobility in York twice when we were on holiday there and Oh My Life, it was AMAZING! Independence like nothing I’ve experienced in half a decade. Absolutely blown away – would recommend that kind of independence to anyone!!

    1. Oh I totally feel you on the car issue, it’s such a hassle if you don’t have an adapted vehicle and I always feel so guilty asking my parents to lift it in when in society’s eyes it’s us young’uns who should be the fit and healthy ones! SO glad to hear you have access to Shopmobility too, they’re a lifeline if you’re not able to purchase one for yourself. Thanks again for the kind words xx

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words Ayesha! Wishing you all the best if you do decide to take the plunge. Anything that makes life more comfortable for you can only be a good thing!

  5. Absolutely true! I don’t know why everywhere I see banners, promotions, brochures, online websites…. only elderly people are shown on wheelchairs and powerchairs… I have seen so many young people in real life who are using them… I think may be their target markets are adults only.

  6. Hi Pippa! I am in love with your writing. This article was fantastic for me!! I’m in desperate need of power hair. As it was said, I might be able to walk a certain amount or do something else, it’s the price I have to pay afterward, being in bed or completely still that’s becoming unbearable. One of my problems with a chair is every time I mention it to my husband, I see his face contort due to the costs. I’m sorry if I’m not clear, it’s nice to see and hear about others success.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words Susan, means a lot! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you find a solution that works for you: at the end of the day, your health should always be a priority!

  7. Thank you so much for this post. I’m using a scooter right now and it’s changed my life and allowed me to keep up with school. It’s been the most helpful thing in dealing with chronic illness and has allowed me to be a part of the world instead of being stuck at home. It’s weird though in that no doctor every suggested it to me. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the Chronic illness community that I went ” Wow this is an option. I should try this.” <3

  8. I totally agree with you… I have also seen that powerchairs are marketed only for elderly people.. even the videos which I have seen is showing only the elderly people telling about them. advertisement agencies should realize that there aren’t only the old ones who are disabled and use these powerchairs. u should show your this post to them.

  9. Fantastic blog. As a manual wheelchair user myself. I’m now struggling as My husband ended our marriage and i can’t use my chair at all. I don’t have savings and wondered about grants to help with costs. I’m feeling stuck in my home now and my confidence is disappearing fast. Any advice would be great.

  10. hi pippa, great blog:-) I felt the same when I needed to start using a power wheelchair, I’m doing my PhD exploring power wheelchair discourses, in order to understand why people, like myself, are reluctant to use them, despite needing to. Anyway, thanks for sharing, I do agree that seeing others on social media made me feel less self conscious about my spinal impairment. Hugs from New Zealand xo

    1. Your research sounds so interesting, wishing you all the best with it Claire. And thank you so much for the kind words!

  11. Thankyou for your post I’m 49 years old for the past 10 years been using a scooter but my health been getting worse i was in to minds about a powerchair but now I’m investing in one This has helped me a lot

  12. Thanks for your post. I’ve been debating getting a scooter on and off for a while.
    Curious why you chose a power chair over a scooter, and whether they’re any good with hills. Living in Sheffield, it’s one of the things putting me off.

    1. Hiya! I’ve never really used a scooter so can’t really compare the two, but the power-chair just seemed like the best fit for me and my needs – mine does struggle a bit up the steepest hills, but one of the things I was worried about with a scooter was holding the arm position needed to drive them whereas I was immediately comfortable in even the most affordable power-chair. That said, I know lots of people with ME/CFS manage really well with them! My best recommendation is to test drive both and see what works best for you!

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