As you talk to your doctor or physical therapist about your mobility aid options, it would be helpful for you to know the different types of walkers for seniors and also some of their variations that target particular needs and conditions.
Standard Walker or Traditional Walker
A standard walker is a walking frame that must be picked up and moved, which helps with balance while walking. The four legs are rubber-tipped and non-skid. Gliders are sometimes added to the leg tips to help the walking pattern feel more natural. Proper upper body strength is needed to lift the walker while moving it in a slow and steady manner. This traditional walker promotes stability as the user places weight on it during mobility. Standard walkers can fold up easily for easy transport. This type is the most affordable type of walker. (WebMD, 2021)
Two-wheel walkers, which have wheels on the two front legs, are helpful if you need some, but not constant, weight-bearing help.
Three-wheel walkers for seniors provide balance support like a four-wheel walker, but it is lighter weight and more maneuverable.
This walker is for people who don’t need to lean on the walker for balance.
Rollators with Seats
Rollators with Seats have wheels and hand brakes. They do not need to be lifted in order to use and their swivel wheels make them easy to maneuver.
A rollator is a type of walker with 3 or 4 large wheels. Rollators also have handlebars with hand brakes and a built-in seat with a crossbar for back support. A rollator can be considered for individuals with certain medical conditions, injuries or age-related conditions that cause poor balance, weakness, or fatigue. Rollators are easier to maneuver and propel around corners and small spaces.
Rollators improve mobility on the proper surface allowing the user to support their body, improving posture and thus may reduce back and shoulder pain. The seat is beneficial for individuals who need rest which is beneficial to prevent any accidents related to pain or fatigue.
The average weight of a rollator is approximately 15 pounds. Rollators can fold up easily for transporting convenience. (Carmody, 2020)
Individuals who are too weak to control maneuvering and too weak to use the brakes should not use a rollator walker for safety reasons. As always, discuss mobility aids with your health professional.
Knee Walkers or Knee Scooters
A knee scooter is not a good choice for someone with an injury near or above the knee. Otherwise, knee walkers or knee scooters provide mobility as an alternative to crutches for those recovering from a below-the-knee surgery or injury. Knee scooters do not require as much upper body strength to use as crutches do, making them a good choice for some.
Upright Walkers for Seniors
Upright walkers for seniors are the latest innovation in safe assistive mobility devices. Upright walkers have 4 wheels and forearm support to maintain posture, minimize lower back stress and improve walking mechanics. Upright walkers also have a seat with back support to enable one to rest during prolonged activity.
To more easily get up from a seated position most upright walkers have sit-to-stand handles which definitely come in handy.
Some upright walkers run the brake cables inside the walker frame. Those that don’t have them looping on the outside of the walker from the brake handles to the actual brake. Beware that this can in some situations be a tripping hazard if the cable gets caught while maneuvering.
Upright Walker Benefits:
- Minimizes stress on the spine by encouraging good posture versus slouching over a walker
- May encourage increased walking due to proper posture, reduced stress and reduced pain
- Promotes safer mobility by maintaining an upright position enabling you to identify potential tripping hazards
- Walking upright maintains the body weight to be centered and balanced thereby reducing potential falls
Lightweight walkers fill the need for seniors with mobility issues who frequently travel or have diminished strength. There isn’t a formal definition for a “lightweight walker” — we’re mostly looking at the relative weight compared to other products on the market. We found in practical everyday use, anything around 15 pounds or less is light enough for most seniors to handle without too many problems.
Whether your doorways are not as wide as they could be or if you are finding it hard to turn your standard walker or upright walker around in a smaller bathroom, narrow walkers just may be the solution that you are looking for.
Standard walkers and upright walkers measure between 25 inches to 29 inches wide. Narrow walkers on the other hand are between 22 and 24 inches wide.
Heavy Duty Bariatric Walker
Designed for users that are over 300 pounds, a heavy duty bariatric walker can support someone up to 400 pounds and some models up to 600 or more. Bariatric walkers have reinforced heavy-duty frames and extra-wide seats.
Tall Walkers for Seniors
Why is it a little tough to find good tall walkers? The design and engineering of a tall walker is a trade-off between stability and height accommodation. The taller and more narrow a walker is the more unstable it becomes. So keep that in mind when you are picking out a tall walker for seniors.
All Terrain Walkers for Seniors
All Terrain Walkers for Seniors are designed to provide stability over uneven or semi-rough outdoor surfaces. These walkers can be used on cobblestone, grass, or compact sand. If they can open up more possibilities like a day at the park or beach, what a wonderful thing that would be! They tend to have tires that are larger in diameter than standard walkers or rollators and sometimes are even air-filled.
Types of Walkers for Seniors: Conclusion
We hope that this guide helped you to see the many different types of walkers for seniors that are available today and the special uses that they were designed for.
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