Are you looking to purchase a walker, but aren’t sure which one to buy? A walker can help increase your mobility, strength, and independence.
With the right walker, you’ll be able to do more things on your own, achieve your goals, and regain your confidence. But, you need to make sure you choose the right walker for your needs in order to reap all of these benefits.
How do you know which walker is right for you?
Check out this guide to discover how to choose a walker for your needs.
Different Types of Walkers for Seniors
To choose the right walker for your needs, you first need to understand the different types available to you. Here are the most common types of walkers:
Don’t let the name fool you, a standard walker is anything but basic. This type of walker is best for those who are most concerned about their stability. Standard walkers are sturdy and robust, and they enhance your balance and support.
These walkers are mainly designed for those with mobility issues that can be taken care of independently. But, because of the way they function, these walkers aren’t best for those who need to cover a lot of ground.
The top rail of a standard walker comes with two handgrips that are either made from a hard or soft rubber foam. The softer the foam is, the easier it is to grip. However, soft foam wears out much more quickly than hard foam.
These walkers are also easy to transport from one place to the next due to the fact that most of them are foldable. The folding mechanism is usually very easy to operate- all you need to do is push two buttons in and the walker will collapse and fold flat. However, keep in mind that the foldable ones tend to cost more. But, if you travel a lot, a foldable walker is well worth the investment. If you are planning to travel sometime soon and have never traveled with a rollator you may find our article on that subject helpful. Read “Flying with a Rollator“.
Standard walkers are typically available in heavy-duty and junior styles. Because of their material and structure, these walkers are best suited for indoor use, so if you spend a lot of time at home, a standard walker is suitable for you. Standard walkers are also the lightest walker available on the market, making them easy to store and transport.
Another very important thing to remember with standard walkers is that they don’t come with any wheels. Therefore, in order to operate your standard walker, you’ll need to pick it up and set it down with each step. If you have serious mobility issues, you may find this to be difficult to do.
Another very common type of walker is a two-wheel walker. To move a two-wheel walker, you must put your weight into it while walking. Then, the wheels will facilitate the rest of the movement.
The other legs have rubber tips on them that add friction to the walker and prevent it from moving forward. Much like standard walkers, two-wheel walkers can also be easily folded up for storage and transportation.
With two-wheel walkers, you have two main options: anterior rolling walkers that offer front support, or posterior walkers that offer back support. With an anterior walker, the support base is larger, making it more stable for walking.
A posterior two-wheel walker can help with your balance and posture as you stand or walk. To use this type of walker, you’ll need to stand in the middle and with the support in the back. Then, as you hold the side handles, you’ll pull the walker from behind as you step forward.
These walkers can move relatively smoothly on flat terrain. But, due to their design, they’re not suitable for rocky or uneven surfaces. Another great thing about two-wheel walkers is that they typically come already assembled, and you don’t need to make any complicated modifications.
If you have limited mobility and a standard walker is too difficult for you to operate, a two-wheel walker is likely your best bet. If you’re a slow walker, you may also benefit from a two-wheel walker, as it can help you quicken your pace.
Another common type of walker is a rollator walker, also just known as a rollator. While rollator walkers tend to be more expensive, they’re also the most flexible type of walker on the market.
If you need to stop frequently while walking, then a rollator walker is likely best for you. Here are some of the biggest benefits of rollator walkers:
Wheels Instead of Legs: If you need to alleviate tiredness and stress on your joints, then a rollator walker is perfect for you. The wheels on the walker allow you to easily move forward without needing to lift the walker up with every step.
This means that you don’t need to steady yourself as you move the walker forward, allowing you to focus more on the world around you.
Hand Brakes: Some people are nervous at the prospect of having wheels on all legs of the walker. However, rollator walkers come with hand brakes so you don’t have to worry about your walker rolling away.
All you need to do is lightly squeeze the handle pulls to apply the brakes. Most models even come with a parking brake so that you can park your walker for an indefinite period of time.
Portable Design: A lot of traditional walkers are cumbersome and bulky. If you’re going on a trip, it can sometimes be very difficult to take a traditional walker with you. The great thing about rollator walkers is that they have a portable design. Many rollator walkers can be folded up so you can take them with you wherever you go.
Height Adjustment: Another major benefit of rollator walkers is that they are height adjustable. This means that you can adjust your rollator walker to match your comfort and stability needs. Whether you’re short, tall, or somewhere in between, your walker can be calibrated to your unique needs.
Cushioned Seat: Most traditional walkers are solely built for walking. However, many individuals who use walkers need to rest periodically. If you’re using a standard walker and you need a break, you’ll need to track down a place to sit.
However, rollator walkers come with built-in, cushioned seats so you can easily take a rest at your convenience. All you need to do is put on the brakes, turn around, and then you can sit right down on the walker.
All-Terrain Wheels: Basic walkers aren’t designed to be used anywhere else but on a flat surface. However, there are rollator walkers that are designed to function both outdoors and indoors.
The wide tires and gripping coasters make it so the rollator walker can move along uneven trails and dirt paths. This way, you can still enjoy the outdoors with your family.
A Bariatric Walker is a walker suitable for users that weigh over 300 pounds. These walkers are generally stronger and more stable than regular walkers. Not only can they handle a bit more weight, the seat is a little wider for added comfort.
How to Fit a Walker
No matter which type of walker you choose, you need to make sure it fits correctly before you purchase it. Here are the tips you need to follow to make sure the walker fits your body:
- After assembling it, make sure the legs are securely locked and that the folding mechanism is in the locked position
- Make sure the handgrips are tight and aren’t moving around
- Make sure the rubber tips aren’t worn, ripped, or missing
- If the walker comes with a basket accessory, make sure to attach that according to the manufacturer’s instructions
- Keep in mind that a walker is meant to support your leaning weight, not your full weight
To determine the best fit for your walker, you’ll need to measure your wrist height. Here’s how to do that:
- Stand comfortably with your arms hanging loosely at your side (get assistance from a friend if necessary)
- Measure the distance from your wrists to the floor
- This distance will tell you how high from the ground your handgrips should be
- Adjust all four legs so that the walker is level
Once you’ve adjusted your walker to the right height, you can begin safely using it.
Are You Ready to Buy a Walker?
Now that you’ve read this guide, it’s time for you to buy your walker. Of course, there are all kinds of different walkers on the market, so making the right selection can be overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the best walkers of 2022 so you don’t have to do any extra research. Click here to learn about the best walkers for seniors in 2022.