Walking around can become more difficult as we age since our overall health, including physical capabilities, deteriorates.
Fortunately, we have walkers for seniors that serve as the perfect mobility aid for when that happens!
If you’re a senior (or caring for a senior), investing in a walker should be one of your TOP PRIORITIES.
It provides better assistance than your good ol’ canes and helps seniors become independent despite their decreased abilities.
Let’s discuss the different types of walkers in this article to help you choose the best walkers to suit seniors’ needs!
The Different Types of Walkers for Seniors
Walkers are mobility devices that help individuals with balance or stability issues. A physical therapist usually recommends these after assessing the patient’s condition.
This could be based on their weight, height, strength, endurance, and walking ability, among other factors.
I know the pain of choosing the best walkers for seniors because it was once my first time shopping for one.
There are many choices on the market, plus many points to consider, making everything complicated and confusing.
Lucky for you, you stumbled upon this article before shopping. I’ll answer all your questions about walkers as you scroll through this article, starting with the 10 types of walkers:
One of the best walkers for seniors to buy is a standard walker. Standard walkers are like your typical cane but with four legs and two handlebars, giving it the capacity to support BOTH SIDES of the body.
Typically, a standard walker has metal frames and grips on each side, which makes it a compact, sturdy, and reliable device — especially for those recovering from hip injuries.
Unlike rollators, this type DOESN’T have wheels. Instead, it has to be picked up at every step.
With this, you can already anticipate that standard walkers require energy.
As such, it’s recommended for the elderly who have enough energy to walk alone but need something to rely on for balance.
- Sturdy and reliable
- Can support both sides of the body
- Can help with balance issues
- Require upper body strength
- Has to be picked up at every step
Lightweight walkers for seniors are similarly structured as most walkers, whether they have wheels or not. However, it’s built with more lightweight materials, like carbon fiber and aluminum.
These types of walkers are EASIER to transport since they’re featherlight. However, they can’t support much weight compared to other heavy-duty walkers that can support more than 300 lbs.
I highly recommend this for seniors who aren’t strong enough to lift and don’t exceed the suggested weight capacity.
- Easy to carry and maneuver
- Very light
- Can’t support more than 300 lbs.
Tall walkers for seniors aren’t always common on the market. However, certain patients require taller walkers to cater to their height.
Tall walkers are easily adjustable, stretching up to 39 inches.
Considering the elderly’s height in choosing the correct walker is important as it provides comfort and stability by preventing them from bending their backs and knees.
- Adjustable height up to 39 inches
- Prevents tall seniors from bending their backs and knees
- Difficult to find many options on the market
Narrow walkers are typically standard or wheeled walkers that are foldable.
These are easy to maneuver because you can fold them as you go, allowing you to adapt to narrow spaces — like doorways and corridors.
Usually, these walkers are lightweight and wheeled. I find this rolling walker handy, especially if your elderly likes having fun strolling in parks, malls, or other crowded places.
- Can be folded to adapt to narrow spaces
- Can be a bit flimsy for heavy users
As its name suggests, upright walkers help keep your posture straight.
Most upright walkers are also rolling walkers. But instead of the usual arm grips, you have elevated armrests, which allow you to rest your arms while walking.
But these are not solely meant to relax your arms! Instead, the arm grips of this wheeled walker actually help reduce the pressure on the knees, hands, wrists, and back.
- Has elevated armrests for comfort
- Keep the posture straight and proper
- Doesn’t have a seat
Heavy Duty Walkers
Heavy-duty walkers (a.k.a. bariatric walkers) are the opposite of lightweight walkers. That’s because they’re meant to support seniors who can weigh up to 650 lbs.
This is thanks to the use of sturdier materials, like steel.
With this said, you should already expect that such walkers are HEAVY. Hence, it would need a bit more energy to carry and maneuver.
If you’re considering this, I suggest going for a wheeled walker instead of a standard walker for ease of use.
- Sturdier compared to lightweight rollators
- Can support up to 650 lbs.
- Needs more energy to carry and maneuver
One type of rolling walker is a two-wheeled walker.
It may look like your standard walker, but it has two back legs and two front wheels. Hence, you can easily push your walker across short distances and don’t need to carry it with every step.
However, one downside of this rolling walker is its difficult maneuverability, especially if you have to put on so much load or apply pressure on the front wheels.
- Can be easily pushed in short distances
- Doesn’t need to be carried like a standard walker
- Can cause accidents if too much pressure is applied
3-Wheel Walker Rollators
If you wish for more mobility and adaptability in narrow spaces, a three-wheeled rollator walker is my TOP RECOMMENDATION.
This works perfectly, especially for elders who don’t need as much assistance.
It has similar benefits as a four-wheeled walker minus the seat and other minute features.
Yet, unlike its big brother, which has two wheels each for the front and back, this triangular walker easily folds so you can move it in crowded places.
- Can adapt to crowded and narrow spaces
- Not suitable for heavy users
4-Wheeled Walker Rollators
Unlike your standard walker, a four-wheeled walker doesn’t require much upper body strength from the senior.
I recommend this to those who are weak and lack endurance because this only needs a gentle push to move forward.
You might be thinking, won’t a four-wheeled walker be dangerous?
Well, manufacturers of rolling walkers have already anticipated possible accidents, especially when you go fast with these four wheels.
A four-wheel walker has brakes to slow you down, a padded seat for you to rest in between, and padded hand grips for extra comfort.
- Has a seat to take rests in between
- Equipped with brakes for slowing down
Rollator Walkers for Rough Surfaces
If your physical therapist requires you to go for long walks, you might as well stroll in the park or on your lawn.
But, in this case, you’ll need the right walker that works with different terrains, specifically those with rough surfaces.
The best rollator walkers for rough surfaces are usually those with big pneumatic tires, which LESSEN the vibrations. I find this helpful for those with sensitive hands, arms, wrists, and backs.
- Equipped with pneumatic wheels
- Reduced vibrations when passing through rough terrain
- Requires energy to grip the brakes
How to Choose the Best Walker for Seniors
Now that you know the different types of walkers, it’s time to choose the correct walker for the elderly. Here are the primary things to consider:
#1 Standard Walker or Rolling Walker?
One question to answer is whether you should get a rollator or a standard walker.
Standard walkers are already good enough if you still have enough upper body strength and primarily need balance support.
However, if strolling around is a part of your physical therapy, or you’re a more active senior who needs assistance in walking, a rollator walker is a much better option.
The material used will also determine its overall performance, longevity, and how much it weighs.
For lightweight choices, look for those made of carbon fiber and aluminum. But if you’re looking for something sturdy to support your weight, steel also works perfectly.
On the other hand, if you’re fond of walking indoors and on smooth surfaces, walkers with hard solid tires are good for your daily activities.
But, if you like strolling in all kinds of terrain, you better go for those with pneumatic tires.
#3 Capacity and Adjustability
There’s no standard weight capacity indicated in some walkers.
But, for lightweight walkers, the most it can take is 300 lbs. So, if you weigh more than this, consider getting HEAVY-DUTY choices.
Aside from weight, height is also another thing to consider. Make sure to choose an assistive device that adjusts to your desired height.
This way, you can ensure safety, health, and comfort while using the walker.
#4 Added Features
Features like grips, seats, storage pouches, and brakes, are also things you should consider when buying a walker.
If you want to stay COMFORTABLE while walking, padded grips are a must-have. The seat, on the other hand, allows you to take breaks in between.
The brake’s reliability is also something to factor in, especially for wheeled walkers.
Not all walkers have the same features. So, according to your intended use, choose the features you think would benefit you the most.
Where to Buy Walkers for Seniors?
There are many places to buy walkers for the elderly.
You can visit physical stores in your area, specifically those that offer medical supplies and devices. But there are also lots of options online.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s try answering some of your questions in this section:
Does Medicare Pay for Walkers for the Elderly?
Yes! The expenses you may spend on a walker for seniors can be covered by Medicare.
However, this should be prescribed by a therapist or doctor as medically necessary.
What Is the Best Walker for Balance?
Standard walkers are the most reliable choice for steady support. But if you want ease in walking, all-terrain walkers can also aid in balance issues.
What Is the Best Walker to Prevent Falls?
A U-step walker is said to be designed to prevent falling, specifically among those with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease.
That’s a wrap! I hope you have a clear idea of which walker type to invest in.Always remember to choose the correct walker for yourself or the elderly person you care for. It’s not only a matter of assistance, but comfort and ease of use for the patient!