Buying a wheelchair is an important investment. But you don’t necessarily have to shell out thousands in order to get a wheelchair that suits your needs.
To get a quality wheelchair without the high price tag, consider buying used. Used wheelchairs are much more affordable and may have little wear-and-tear. It’s possible to find the ideal used wheelchair for your situation, if you know where to look.
To make this process easier, we’ve put together this ultimate buyer guide for used wheelchairs, so you know what to consider and where to find the best used wheelchairs out there.
Key considerations for used wheelchairs
Before you start your search for a used wheelchair, think carefully about the type of wheelchair you need. Some key considerations to keep in mind include:
- Manual or electric? While electric wheelchairs are excellent for adults who could benefit from the automated mobility, manual wheelchairs are generally more affordable and lighter for travelling.
- Self-propelled or transport? Self-propelled wheelchairs are intended to be moved by the user, while transport wheelchairs are designed to be pushed from behind. This will depend on whether you plan on using the wheelchair on your own, or as a wheelchair for occasions where somebody will be pushing you.
- Indoor or outdoor? Indoor and outdoor wheelchairs have different materials and types of wheels. You may want an indoor wheelchair for daily use, or an outdoor wheelchair for outings.
- Daily use. Whether you plan on using the wheelchair for part-time or full-time will make a difference. For constant daily use, be sure to choose a used wheelchair with high-quality materials that will last.
- Measurements. It may be tricky to find a used wheelchair with your exact measurements. However, you should try to look for one with approximately the right size, including weight capacity, seat height, leg rests, armrests etc.
- Travel needs. If you’re on the move often, you may benefit from a used wheelchair that is lighter and more portable. Some wheelchairs may even have foldable modes to make car travel easier.
- Comfort. It’s vital that you feel comfortable in your used wheelchair. Be sure to look at the type of seat cushion and texture, as well as key measurements such as seat size.
- Condition. The condition of the used wheelchair is also important. Some wear-and-tear is normal, but be cautious about damage to the frame or wheels. For electric wheelchairs, you’ll also want to ask about the age of the battery, as replacing this part can be quite costly.
Where to find used wheelchairs
Now that you’re ready to buy a used wheelchair, here are some initial places to start your search. While physical stores and sales are beneficial to see the wheelchair firsthand, you may find a great deal online.
For in-person sales, check your local stores and keep an eye out for yard sales or estate auctions.
- Yard sales and auctions
- Thrift stores, including Goodwill and Salvation Army
- Medical equipment liquidation sales
- Local classified ads
You may find some fantastic offers online. Just make sure that the buyer is reputable, so you don’t end up falling for a scam. In addition, keep in mind the shipping costs and the return policy.
While online items may be cheaper, you should calculate the shipping, as large items sometimes incur significant fees. You’ll also want to check the return policy, in case the product doesn’t fit your needs in the end.
- Facebook or other social platforms
- Mobility Market USA
In particular, Amazon has an interesting option to take advantage of. As you browse for used wheelchairs, you can select the “open box” option. This will include wheelchairs that for some reason were returned – hence “open box.” Often this due to light shipping damage and these products are like-new.
Tips for choosing a used wheelchair
1. Test it out yourself, if possible.
If you’re buying locally, be sure to test out the used wheelchair yourself. To start, you’ll want to check the brakes. You’ll also want to look carefully at the seat, armrests, footrests and wheels. The wheelchair should be comfortable, with plenty of back support, and shouldn’t have any missing functions or parts.
2. Double-check the measurements.
Whether you buy in-person or online, make sure the measurements will work for you. While you may not get the perfect dimensions, it’s important that the chair isn’t too big or too small for your body.
Otherwise, you may be vulnerable to accidents such as slipping and falling. If the measurements for the used wheelchair aren’t posted, find them out before you purchase to make sure. You don’t want to eyeball it and then be stuck with a chair that’s the wrong size.
3. Research the brand to see if replacement parts are easily findable.
The brand of the used wheelchair is also a key aspect. For certain brands, you may find it easier to get replacement parts or accessories. Before buying, research the brand to see whether you can access parts.
This is also true of the model. Older wheelchair models may be more difficult to repair, so make sure it’s not too old to get any parts as needed. In general, it’s best to look for newer models, as they’re typically better designed and have a variety of accessories and parts still available.
4. Don’t hesitate to negotiate.
For second-hand items, it’s typical to negotiate the price. Don’t hesitate to open the pricing discussion and see whether the owner is flexible with the final cost. In addition, don’t feel pressured to buy. If the price isn’t right, or you’re not convinced by the wheelchair itself, say no and keep looking.
How much does a used wheelchair cost?
A used wheelchair varies in price, depending on its features. For example, electric wheelchairs typically start at $1,000, while manual wheelchairs can go as low as $150.
You’ll want to look closely at the features of the wheelchair in order to choose one that fits your needs. Regardless of the type of used wheelchair, the cut in price can be significant. This is especially true for used electric wheelchairs, which can go as high as $5,000-$8,000.
How long do wheelchairs last?
While all wheelchairs will experience wear or tear, you can still buy a high-quality used product. Generally, wheelchairs can last up to 5-10 years, though this will depend on the previous owner’s use. Unless the wheelchair is in great condition, you may want to avoid purchasing used wheelchairs that are over 10 years old.
Does Medicare pay for wheelchairs?
Medicare should cover the costs of a wheelchair that’s deemed medically necessary. However, the criteria for meeting these requirements can sometimes be difficult to meet. Your doctor will determine whether a wheelchair is medically necessary for you through an evaluation of your daily limitations.
If he/she grants you a prescription for a wheelchair, Medicare will cover at least some of the costs of the wheelchair. This is also the case if you have private insurance. You’ll need a doctor’s prescription in order to get costs partially or fully covered.
Some seniors have noted the difficulty of meeting the medically necessary requirements for a wheelchair, which is why many end up buying one out of pocket. Used wheelchairs can be especially beneficial for adults experiencing this situation.
Can I get a wheelchair for free?
If you meet the medically necessary requirements for a wheelchair, you may have the costs of a wheelchair covered by Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance providers.
However, you may still have a few options if you have a limited income and need a wheelchair. Foundations such as the Wheelchair Foundation and the Free Wheelchair Mission are helping to bridge the gap for seniors who would benefit from having a wheelchair.
You can also qualify for local programs, so contact your chapter of Area Agencies on Aging to see if there are any programs that serve your location.
Find your ideal used wheelchair today
Buying a used wheelchair can be a great way to get an affordable option that fits your needs. Be sure to check out these marketplaces for used wheelchairs and take your time during your search. With a little bit of luck, you’ll find the ideal used wheelchair and save a chunk of change while you’re at it.
Wheelchairs are just one type of senior product you may require. You also may be interested in learning about medical alert watches, walking shoes, cell phone plans and other digital products. Check out all our senior product guides on MyCaringPlan!