Which Walker is Better for the Elderly?

walkers and rollatores as mobility aid in old age

For many elderly people, retaining independence and mobility is of the utmost importance. When an older person’s ability to walk well is impaired, both of these important factors are at risk. 

However, selecting a good-quality walker can help an elderly loved one stay mobile and independent safely for longer, giving you peace of mind and helping them feel more self-sufficient. A person’s choice of walker can make the difference between a safe and reliable means of mobility and a health risk. 

Here’s how to know when you should start looking for a walker for your elderly loved one and everything you should know about picking the best product that will keep them healthy and happy for as long as possible.

When Should an Elderly Person Use a Walker? 

There are several indicators that your elderly loved one may need to begin using a walker. These indicators can consist of signs easily recognizable at home as well as a diagnosis for multiple different health conditions.

Firstly, it’s important to have clear and open communication with your elderly friend or loved one. If you notice them having any new trouble walking, ask them about it. 

Notice and bring it up if they seem to get easily out of breath, have trouble staying steady on their feet, or seem to experience pain when walking. Also, ask if they have taken any falls while trying to walk recently.

While falling and unsteadiness may be more apparent signs, some indicators, like the need to sit down more often while walking or becoming winded, might be harder to spot.

Likewise, if your loved one has been diagnosed with a health condition, such as osteoporosis or multiple sclerosis, or is recovering from a bone fracture or stroke, a walker might be the necessary next step to help them remain steady on their feet. 

Benefits of Using a Walker

While some people might initially see a walker as something that holds them back, walkers offer key benefits, especially for elderly people, that can keep them mobile for longer.

which type of walker is best for the elderly

Walkers can help elderly people better support their upper body during walking by giving them something to lean against and hold onto. Similarly, walkers aid with balance and steadiness for the same reason.

They can also contribute to building walking endurance over time and eventually overcoming muscle weakness or fatigue.

Balance is another key benefit that a walker can impart. For elderly people who are unsteady on their feet, the wider frame of a walker can provide sturdiness, prevent swaying, and keep elderly people from falling.

Difference Between a Walker and a Rollator

While a walker consists of a wide, often metal frame with four legs, a rollator is a walker that has wheels and doesn’t need to be picked up for movement. A rollator also features an area that a person can use to sit on when they need to rest.

Walkers are better for elderly people whose needs encompass sturdiness, weight support, and stability. Walkers also necessitate more strength for lifting the frame between each step.

On the other hand, rollators are suited to people who don’t stand well on their own, may become tired in the middle of walking, or aren’t strong enough to lift a walker frame between steps.

While a walker can offer more mobility in outdoor spaces and smaller indoor areas, a rollator is a good option for an elderly person who can’t move well but wants to retain mobility within an open, single-level space.

Is a Rollator Safe for the Elderly? 

While an elderly person might balk at the idea of a wheeled walker, thinking it wouldn’t be sturdy or supportive, rollators are generally safe for the elderly. 

Many come with safety features, like a brake lock that keeps the rollator from moving. Additionally, rollators feature a low center of gravity that makes them difficult to tip over. Because they offer the option of a seat if needed for rest, rollators are one of the safest mobility aids.

rollators as walkers for the elderly

However, improper use could lead to safety issues. Sometimes, uphill and downhill walking or dealing with doors can be difficult for people using rollators. Therefore, it’s helpful for the person using the rollator to have company or assistance.

Does the Medical Card Cover a Walker/ Rollator?

Most mobility aids, like walkers and rollators, are covered for medical cardholders. To attain an aid, the user must be assessed by a medical professional, such as a physiotherapist, who can prescribe the best mobility aid for the individual.

Can You Push Someone on a Rollator?

Although rollators are designed with a seat, they are not designed to be used similarly to wheelchairs. Because of the way the frame is made, a rollator will likely not hold up well if used to push around a seated occupant.

What’s more, rollators don’t have a good range of motion while the user is sitting. Maneuvering a rollator while someone is sitting in it can prove difficult and dangerous.

Rollator seats are best for when the user needs a rest during walking. In this way, rollators make good immobile seats for occasional walking breaks and good mobile aids for walking.

How Do You Put a Rollator in the Car?

Like with many walkers, most rollators can be easily folded down into a more compact form for storing in the car while traveling. 

What’s important to remember during this process is that the rollator should be secured in its compact form. Use a tie or bungee to keep the rollator secure during travel in the car trunk or floorboards.

Where Can You Donate a Rollator?

If you have a rollator that you or a loved one no longer uses, many organizations will readily accept donations. The Salvation Army, your local Disabled People’s Organization, or even local thrift stores would be happy to receive a donated rollator.

Final Thoughts

If you think your elderly friend or loved one is ready for a mobility aid, start a conversation today about how to help them remain independent and mobile for as long as possible. 

For elderly people who need support and solutions for fatigue, a rollator is a wonderful, safe option that can impart self-sufficiency and peace of mind.

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