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Consumer Reports

Power chairs unplugged | (UPI) -- We recognize there are people who really need power chairs to get around, those with heart, lung, or other physical ailments or "states" that would be prohibited from enjoying life -- or at least a mobile life -- without the use of a battery powered rolling chair.

Power chairs are a little different from wheel chairs because they are always motorized. Controls for the power chair can be anything from a tiller and "go" switch to sophisticated "blow-tube" steering for those without the use of their hands. That kind of independence can be priceless to those in need.

All that said, it has come to our attention that perfectly healthy people are purchasing, renting and using power chairs at an ever-increasing rate.

What's up with that? Lazy? We don't know, and before you jump to a conclusion about hidden illnesses, we know there are people who appear to be healthy externally but who suffer from some internal infirmity. Our information comes from people in the business of renting such chairs.

Many renters are bold enough to say candidly they have no better reason to rent a chair than convenience. The problem? These businesses only have so many chairs. When they're all rented, a person who really needs this enabling piece of technology discovers none are to be found.

Mr. or Ms. Business-person, you are in a bit of an ethical dilemma. Do you rent to those with dollars and no medical reason for renting? Do you rent only to those with a medical reason for renting? Do you just buy more chairs to rent -- regardless?

Here's our suggestion: There are a number of safe, slow moving electric scooters available as alternatives to the chairs for those who shun walking or just tire easily (maybe from shunning walking). Why not rent those?

Most seniors we've had contact with say they prefer to walk if possible and enjoy the capability while they can. Earl Nightingale, the famous motivational speaker, once said the strangest secret for success is doing what you like to do and doing it in the service of others. We just have to balance that with a "show me the money" society.

So, thinking of renting a power chair but don't really need it? Take a hike!

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