Walking aids should provide the user with enhanced mobility. The walking aid you choose will depend on your mobility level and balance. A person that lacks proper balance will often be found using a walker that offers the highest level of balance and support.
Walkers are the recommended choice for seniors and anyone laboring an injury or disability that puts them at a higher risk of falling.
Risks of falling are reduced when a person uses a walker versus crutches or a cane. The use of a walker allows the person to maintain muscle mass and mobility that is often lost when using a wheelchair.
Choosing the Right Walker for You
You may use one type of walker, and your spouse may use another. There’s no universal option for everyone because everyone is different. A few must-know points before buying a walker are:
- Wheeled. The wheeled walker is easier to move, yet you’ll need to be able to stop on your own and learn to lock the brakes when possible. A wheeled walker makes your movement more fluid and provides ample stability for most people, but if you have a tendency to push outwards, you may want to choose a basic walker.
- Basic Walker. A basic walker will not have brakes. Instead, the basic walker will be picked up by the user and moved using a person’s arms. Users that have a lack of upper body strength or mobility may not be able to confidently pick up and move their walker when needed.
If you’re completely unsure of which type of walker you’ll want to buy, it’s important to consult with your doctor or a physical therapist. It’s important to find a walking aid, or walker, that will be able to accommodate your:
- Movement ability
Understanding the Different Types of Walkers
There are different types of walkers, and the right type for you is completely dependent on your needs and preferences. Some individuals can confidently use a wheeled walker, but these individuals may feel more comfortable with a basic walker.
It’s 100% dependent on your needs and preferences.
When you go to buy a walker, you need to know what types are available. There are a few options available that can make your choice easier:
- Standard Walker
A standard walker, also called a basic walker or medical walker, is popular because it offers the most support possible. When choosing these walkers, a few key points must be considered:
- Support. A standard walker provides the most support possible to the user. When it comes to ensuring that falls don’t occur and that a person with very limited mobility can still walk, a medical walker is usually the go-to option.
- Strength. The standard walker does require more upper body strength than their wheeled counterparts. The walker needs to be picked up and moved, and while walkers are light, a person with an upper body injury or weakness may not have the strength to move a standard walker.
- Speed. Since the user has to pick up the walker and move it, two things happen: trips are slowed down and the user will tire. Long trips are often hindered with a standard walker because the user will be slower and may need frequent breaks because they tire faster.
While slowing, the standard walker is the best option when you need maximum support and have the strength to be able to pick up and move a walker along.
- Rolling Walkers
The evolution of walkers has led to the rolling walker. When you consider rolling walkers, there are two main kinds to know about:
- Walkers with two wheels in the front
- Walkers with wheels in the front and back
- Three wheeled walkers are best for mobility and maneuverability
- Four wheeled walkers are not as maneuverable as a 3 wheeled one, but provide better stability
When choosing a rolling walker, there are a few things to consider:
- Speed. Wheels allow users to move the rolling walker with them at a much faster pace. Each step doesn’t require the walker to be lifted, so the user will move at a much more natural pace.
- Mobility. The addition of wheels makes turning more fluid and can make a person increase their mobility. This is especially true when a walker has four wheels instead of two.
- Outside. Walking outside is more fluid when using a rolling walker. The tires of a rolling walker are difficult to move on dirt or sand, but on pavement, they allow for a better overall walking experience compared to a standard walker.
The addition of wheels does pose the concern that the rolling walker is less stable than a standard walker. A person with moderate balance that can’t quite use a cane may be a good candidate for a rolling walker.
Note: Rollators are four-wheeled walkers. These walkers offer the best range of movement, and swivel wheels allow for easy turning. Baskets are often attached to a rollator to allow for easy carrying of items.
Rollators are often much heavier than a traditional walker, so you have to consider the weight and your ability to lift the walker into a trunk.
- Folding Walker
A folding walker can be a standard or rolling walker, so they’ll have the same general benefits. But a person that is on-the-go often and needs to bring their walker with them will find that a folding walker is a great option.
The folding walker will make it easy to place the walker in the trunk and unfolds easily, too.
Accessories Can Make a Difference
You’ll find that there are a few different accessories that you can pick from when choosing a walker. The three main accessories are:
- Glides. Walker glides allow the user to place glides on the walker’s feet so that it can be easily dragged on the ground. Walker balls or skin glides are often a great option because they reduce the risk of premature wearing of normal glides.
- Bags. Transporting items when both hands are firmly gripping a walker is difficult. Bags are a must-have accessory that can allow for easier transport and the carry of items. Personal belongings fit comfortably in bags.
- Trays. There are trays that attach to walkers that make it easier to transport food or drink when both of your hands are occupied.
Keep in mind that some rollators will have a bag or basket to carry your items. Some walkers or rollators also have a seat attached that make it easy to sit while using your walker. A seat is a great option for users that prefer to walk long distances but may need to rest on occasion.
Walkers can and do make walking with limited mobility easier. The right walker will be adjustable to the proper height and offer the support you need to remain ambulatory.
Allie has worked in care facilities for the last 15 years providing mobility and health care to seniors of all skill levels. She is passionate about senior advocacy and is and loves to spend her free time in the outdoors.