Walkers for seniors
Senior age can present challenges regarding physical health, most commonly in the form of muscle weakness, joint stiffness, and lack of balance. As a result, senior present an increased risk of falling, which can lead to bone fractures and limited mobility. Any injury at senior age can impose a period of bed rest, which can make matters worse. To reduce the risk of falling and other potential injuries, you might consider using a walker. This assisted device can offer the stability you need, allowing you to stay active and engaged within your community. It is a great option for seniors who want to remain independent, despite their advanced age and changes in physical health.
Best walkers for seniors
When choosing the best walkers for seniors, paying attention to details like safety features, ease of use and adjustable components is very important. With many options on today's market there are several walkers that really stand out.
Drive Medical 10257BL-1 4-Wheel Rollator Walker With Seat and Removable Back Support
- Rolling walker with seat
- Adjustable components
- Foldable rollator walker
- Under-seat storage pouch
For seniors who prefer lightweight, folding walkers with wheels, the following product offers a great option.
Drive Medical 10210-1 Deluxe 2-Button Folding Walker with Wheels
- Wheeled walker
- Constructed from sturdy aluminum
- Offers maximum strength while remaining lightweight
- Newly designed rear glide caps that allow the wheeled walker to slide smoothly over most surfaces
What is a walker for seniors?
A walker is a useful tool designed for seniors who might have trouble walking, either due to lack of balance or physical changes (joint stiffness, muscle weakness, general frailty). It is also intended to help those who are recovering from different surgical interventions, having been advised not to bear full weight on their legs. Given that walkers have several points of contact, they offer the necessary support, as opposed to a cane. As the support is available for both sides of the body, one benefits from increased stability and the risk of falling is genuinely reduced.
If you are having trouble walking for long distances or you are dealing with balance issues, you should definitely consider a walker. A physiotherapist will perform an assessment to determine the challenges you might experience. The assessment will most likely focus on gait difficulties, with the movement specialist making recommendations for a suitable walker. Some of the aspects considered include your ability to walk a certain distance, muscle strength, range of motion in major joints, endurance level, balance, etc. The same specialist might offer guidance on how to use the walker, with consideration to safety issues. Keep in mind that a poorly chosen walker might do more harm than good, adding stress to the body.
How do seniors benefit from using a walker?
Walkers are recommended to seniors who might suffer from balance issues, as well as those with muscle weakness and joint stiffness. Those who tire easily, cannot walk for long distances, or are unable to bear weight might benefit from using a walker. They offer the necessary stability support, reducing the risk of falling and other potential injuries.
Balance issues can make seniors anxious and hesitant to go out. They might be afraid of falling, relying on caregivers for assistance. With a walker, such issues are eliminated from the start. Walkers might be beneficial for those who are recovering from a surgical intervention or different interventions. They can be used by seniors dealing with general weakness, respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, and other similar health issues. It is worth pointing out that in many cases a cane will not offer enough support, with the walker being the preferred alternative.
A walk can do wonders for both physical and mental health. With a walker, you can take a safe walk around the block. You might even use it to go to the store or just around the house, finding comfort in the stability it offers. Given that the walker takes some of the weight away, you might be surprised to discover that you are able to walk a longer distance. As a result, you will become interested in physical activity once again, enjoying your newfound mobility. The more active you are, the better your general health is going to be.
Should it happen that you get tired, you can rest as needed. Many walkers have a small sitting surface, so that you are able to take a break whenever you feel like it. You might consider using the walker for safety reasons, for instance when you are dealing with muscle soreness, and you believe some extra support might be good. Always think of the walker as a mobility tool, one that can help you stay active and do the things you like to do. From a practical perspective, it is worth mentioning that the walker takes some of the physical stress away. As a result, you will be able to do more activities, without worrying about feeling tired.
For seniors dealing with arthritis, post-surgical recovery, or neurological issues, a walker can make a genuine difference whereas the sense of security is concerned. Seniors might have developed a fear of falling, especially if they have suffered from such events. A walker can give them the assurance they need, with a positive effect over their confidence. The assistive device has a solid base, which ensures the desired support. It might even be used to stand up from a chair, to walk short distances, or to reduce some of the discomfort associated with walking.
As you might already know, many walkers have a storage basket, so that seniors no longer have to worry about walking and carrying various objects at the same time. They can carry their grocery without relying on a caregiver, which helps them stay independent. Walkers can help those who no longer have strength in their legs, get out of breath within minutes, or experience pain during walking. They are beneficial for those with postural sway, who have become accustomed to walking with the feet apart, in an attempt to keep their balance and remain stable.
A recent surgery, such as the hip replacement intervention, can leave you weak and unstable. You might not realize this, but a walker can facilitate your recovery, especially since you will be able to walk unassisted. The same goes for seniors who are recovering from major health events, such as the stroke or heart attack. The more time one spends on bedrest, the higher the risk of muscle atrophy. With a walker, you can become active again, building your muscle mass among other things. Last, but not least, the walker can help seniors who are suffering from chronic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, or Parkinson's disease.
Different types of walkers for the elderly
Seniors can choose between three different types of walkers, meaning the standard version, the wheeled version, and the rollator. Each type of walker has its own benefits to offer, being recommended for a certain situation or health issue.
The standard walker is one of the most popular choices, being usually made from metal and equipped with hand grips for a comfortable use. As it doesn't feature wheels, it must be raised and moved with each taken step. In consequence, it requires higher levels of energy, not to mention a better state of physical health. Given the energy expenditure, it is worth keeping in mind that one will not be able to walk long distances with this type of walker. These are usually suitable for use around the house or on a short distance. They might also be common in hospitals, including in the rehabilitation ward.
If you need a bit more support, you might consider a wheeled walker. The number of wheels varies from one model to the other. Some models have two wheels at the front, while others have four wheels. For the two-wheeled version, you might discover that the back legs have tennis balls attached, as this guarantees the smooth use of the walker. Keep in mind that the wheeled walker can only move backward or forward; for lateral moves or turns, you will have to lift it. However, the wheels will guarantee that you are able to walk for a longer distance, so you should think about such differences before making a purchase.
The rollator is one of the most advanced types of walker, featuring four or three wheels, which are able to move in any direction. As a result, one can perform lateral moves or turns, without having to actually lift the walker. Most rollators feature a seat, a feature which comes in handy for those who tire easily. It is worth mentioning that many manufacturers now offer the possibility of walker customization. For instance, a frame might be attached to the walker, in order to offer the necessary support to someone who has suffered a stroke. A physiotherapist might provide guidance on the best adaptations one can benefit from, in accordance with the challenges experienced.
The price of a walker depends on several factors, including the type and available features. A short search online will show that the market abounds with options, so that it is practically impossible not to find something to fit your style and needs. Depending on the model and its complexity, you can expect for the price range to vary between $30 and $850. The more features a walker has, the higher the overall cost is going to be. It is worth mentioning that the rollator is usually the most expensive, given its versatility.
How to choose a walker
Shopping for a walker can be daunting, especially if this is your first time purchasing such a device. First and foremost, you will have to think about your situation and the associated needs or goals. Think about the walker and whether you are going to use it long-term. Take into consideration any issues you might be dealing with, such as difficulty walking, lack of balance, fatigue, etc. If you experience weakness in any part of your body, add it to the list. In this way, you will be able to decide on the best possible option, be it a standard or a wheeled walker, or even a rollator.
One of the first things to be on the lookout for is the height of the walker. You should strive to choose a walker with an optimal height, otherwise you might suffer from the awkward posture and the subsequent strain. The good news is that you can adjust the height to the desired level on most walkers. Keep in mind that there are special walkers out there for those who might be outside the normal height range. Also, should you require a wider walker, you might consider the bariatric version.
You should also think about the weight of the walker, as you need to be able to lift the respective device. Keep in mind that a rollator is usually heavier than a standard walker. Why is weight such a decisive factor? Given that the walker can also be used for transfers or walking on various types of terrain, you need to ensure that you can benefit from it completely. Should you attempt to lift a heavy walker, for instance, you might fall or suffer other injuries.
What about the brakes? Well, it might interest you to know that only rollators have breaks. It makes sense for a rollator to have breaks, as this can help you to stay safe on inclined surfaces. You will also need to use the brakes to take a break and sit on the walker. Depending on the model, you might see brakes of different types. Some walkers have brakes that are large in size and quite tight, and these might be hard to navigate by seniors. Modern-generation rollators feature brakes with internal cables, as these reduce the risk of falling, especially in those dealing with balance issues.
In choosing a specific walker, you might also want to think about the environment in which you will use it, as well as about your stability needs. Keep in mind that some walkers are best suited for indoor use, while others are clearly designed for outdoor use. The standard walker might not have wheels, but it offers the best possible support, which also means the highest stability. However, given the slow walking pace, it is best suited for indoors. You might only cover a short distance and you might be frustrated, as it must be lifted repeatedly.
Wheeled walkers are less stable and offer less support, but you might use them to cover larger distances. They are quite effective, allowing seniors to adopt a natural gait, being recommended for outdoor use. It is worth mentioning that wheeled walkers are more stable than rollators. Nonetheless, if you would rather prefer a rollator, you should know that there are versions suitable for the indoor use. These usually have smaller wheels. It is for the best to measure your doorways before making an actual purchase, so as to make sure that the rollator will fit through them.
The rollator intended for outdoor use might have bigger wheels, especially if it is also recommended for the rough terrain. The number of wheels might also contribute to its stability, with four-wheel rollators being the most stable. If you are interested in taking long walks or you might need a break every now and then, this is the best option to consider. Before purchasing a certain model, be sure to check the weight capacity. A good walker should be able to support your weight. Alternatively, you can visit a showroom and check out different models, until you find something that matches your needs to perfection.
You should check out the grips, as these can determine how comfortable it will be to use the respective walker. A plastic grip might be the standard, but this type is not suitable for someone who is prone to sweating. The softer grip represents a much better alternative. Also, if you are dealing with arthritis or other conditions affecting your grasping skills, you should opt for a walker that has larger grips. With rollators, you should choose a version where the brakes are easily accessible.
For seniors who don't have enough storage space, a foldable walker might be a good choice. The one thing you want to make sure is that the walker has a simple folding mechanism, which can be used without too much effort, including by someone with weak hands. Remember that a foldable walker should be easy to lift, as you want to be able to put it in the trunk of your car without assistance. The best option in terms of portability and storage is the three-wheel rollator. This is not only lighter, but it may come with a foldable design, so it can be easily stored when not used.
Walker safety and maintenance
As you have seen above, a wheeled walker will move forward just by pushing it. With a standard walker, you will have to lift the walker yourself. Pay attention to the position of the walker and make sure that all the wheels are on the ground, before you use it for support. When you are walking, do not look at your feet, as this might cause you to lose your balance. It is essential that the walker has been adjusted to your height, with the handles matching the level of your hips. When you grip the walker, the back should remain straight, only the elbows are a bit bent.
If one of your legs is weaker than the other, it is recommended to start walking with it. For instance, this might be the leg you were operated on. However, if you are going to climb stairs or take a turn, you should begin with the stronger leg. For going down the stairs, the weaker leg is the first. Always maintain an adequate amount of space between you and the walker, with the feet staying inside the walker. Otherwise, you might lose your balance, with an increased risk of falling or other injuries.
Upon starting to use a walker indoors, there will be certain changes you will have to make around your house. This is necessary to prevent falls and other potential accidents. You should remove or secure any rugs inside your home, paying attention to corners that tend to stick up or cords that are misplaced. Do your best to remove any existent clutters and make sure that all the floors are clean. If you have door thresholds that are high, you might change or remove these altogether. It is for the best to wear shoes with non-slip soles, as this can genuinely reduce the risk of slipping and falling.
For the walkers that there are used outdoors, there are additional safety concerns to think about. First and foremost, use comfortable shoes, with good traction (including on rainy or snowy weather). Replace the worn tips or broken wheels of the walker. Use a storage basket to deposit your belongings, so that you can use the device with both hands. Unless you have received specific training from a dedicated movement specialist, you should not use the escalator with a walker.
Refrain from putting your entire weight on the walker, as this might cause it to slip, and you might be injured as a result. If possible, test your walker on different terrains, paying attention to the differences of use. In a new area, it is for the best to go slow, paying attention to any obstacles that might occur. Always look ahead, as this will help you identify not only obstacles, but also rough or uneven terrain. Always know your limits, both in terms of energy expenditure and walking distance.
The walker should benefit from a regular maintenance check, as this can help you stay safe while using the assistive device. You should pay attention to the screws and joints that connect the various parts of the walker, making sure that everything is in place. Check the brakes to ensure they are functioning and pay attention to other features, such as the hand grips, rubber tips, slides, or tennis balls. A regularly used walker is subjected to the common wear and tear process, so you need to verify it as often as possible. In this way, you will keep the risk of accidents down to a minimum.
A walker can help you stay independent and active, despite any limitations imposed by your physical health. As you have seen, you have a lot of benefits to gain from using a walker, including in terms of mental health. You can choose a walker that speaks to your needs, with common choices including the standard walker, the wheeled walker, and the rollator. Check out the available features and visit a showroom to see some models in person. Finding the most suitable walker can make a noticeable difference in older person's life.
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