Dad never was into exercise. He had a physically demanding job that probably required more arm strength than leg strength. After he retired, he didn’t participate in any sports or physical activities except for his use of the metal detector for treasure hunting. I don’t know how he became interested in the metal detector but it probably kept him active in a way he wouldn’t have been otherwise.
Dad walked slowly with the metal detector as he listened for the beeps that would tell him something metal was underfoot. He went on the beach and on grass in parks and under trees in picnic areas. Often when dad took his metal detector on the beach, mom would walk along the shore collecting seashells.
Dad had a funny tan line as he always wore shoes and socks along with a shirt and shorts. He often wore a baseball type cap that gave some protection to his head but not his skin. He never wore sunscreen and neither did mom.
For a few years after dad retired, mom and dad traveled around the country in a small camper and visited many states and parks. At most locations they did some sightseeing and also some walking. Dad went out with the metal detector and mom walked along the trails or beaches. Dad kept a notebook of the coins and other treasures that he found and when he cashed in a roll of coins.
When he was at home in the summer, dad would sometimes take one of my cousins’ sons with him for company and companionship when he was using his metal detector. They both had a good time with it. I often wished I lived close enough that dad could have taken my children with him, but they only got to share this activity with him when visiting him in the winter in his mobile home.
After about 15 to 20 years when dad was in his 70’s he began to lose interest in the metal detector. His legs started to bother him and he found walking more difficult. His health began to deteriorate and he became more sedentary. Mom continued to walk to the store and along the beach, but dad was having difficulty walking.
One day dad saw an advertisement for a “scooter” on television. The ad said that the scooter would be free as Medicare would pay for it. Dad telephoned in and soon a sales person came out. The salesman convinced mom that it wouldn’t cost anything if the doctor signed papers saying dad needed the scooter.
Dad was excited to get a scooter and he was fitted for one. They signed the papers and he had his scooter. One problem though was that Medicare has a 20% co-payment and dad’s insurance wouldn’t cover it because he hadn’t met his “deductable” for the year yet. So, instead of “free”, the scooter cost dad $900! Mom was not happy about that, but she did have to agree that dad went out a lot more once he had his scooter. They left the scooter at their mobile home in the south year round as it was not easy to transport to their summer home in the north. Dad used the scooter to go around the neighborhood, to the stores that didn’t require crossing a busy street and to the clubhouse where they had activities in their mobile park. Often dad would go around outside their neighborhood looking for garage sales.
As dad got older and started driving his car less, he used his scooter more. Once he gave up driving altogether, he was dependent on his scooter to get around except for when a neighbor would drive mom and dad out to dinner or something special like that. Dad really enjoyed his scooter and I think he got his money’s worth out of it.
When mom and dad moved into assisted living, the transition moving company helped me get dad’s scooter moved too. However, the ALF had a policy of not allowing scooters to be used inside the ALF building. He was to keep it outside under the awning by the front entrance and only use it outdoors.
Dad only used his scooter a few times at the ALF. At first he went out for rides by himself. Then they decided that because of his Alzheimer’s disease, he should only go out if mom or someone else were with him to prevent him from getting lost. I don’t think mom ever went with him because she couldn’t keep up with him when he was using the motorized scooter and he was walking. (For that matter, neither could I!)
Dad went out a few times by himself, but soon lost interest in that. He no longer had a destination when he was on his scooter. It wasn’t like his mobile home community and there were no garage sales to go to. His neighbors were all inside the building anyway, and by that time dad was no longer very social. His long term friends from the mobile home community had passed away and dad mostly stayed in his room.
After mom passed away, I stayed in the community near dad but in an independent unit for 5 months. When the weather warmed up in the north, I brought dad home with me. I asked dad if we should ship the scooter or if he wanted to take it on the airplane with him. He said I should sell it as he didn’t want to use it anymore.
I advertised dad’s scooter with flyers in several locations in the independent living section of the community. Finally one of the employees asked to purchase it for her husband who had recently had a stroke. She couldn’t afford to pay what we were asking, but I sold it to her anyway as I hadn’t had any other interested buyers. Dad was satisfied with that decision at that time.
Now it has been over a year since dad moved north to his second assisted living facility. He has forgotten many things due to his Alzheimer’s disease, but every once in awhile he will ask me about something he remembers. A few weeks ago he asked if he used to have a scooter. I said yes, he did. He asked where it was and I told him we had sold it before he came to his current assisted living facility. He seemed OK with that.
Last week I saw dad had written something on a notepad. He wrote “Scooter” and a telephone number. I don’t know if he saw an ad in the newspaper or if someone telephoned him. I didn’t say anything to dad when I saw it as I don’t want him to ask for another scooter. I don’t think his ALF will want him to use it because of his Alzheimer’s disease. However, the younger man who sits at the dinner table with dad does use a scooter for all his mobility needs. I think dad would have a hard time understanding why he couldn’t have one too. Yet, I am afraid he wouldn’t use it properly any more. He gets distracted and forgets where he is going. He is reminded by the aides that he is going to the dining room, etc.