How to Choose a Walker

March 3, 2014
Walkers can be a big aid for seniors. (Image courtesy of Praisaeng/FreeDigitalPhots.Net)

Walkers can be extremely helpful for seniors. (Image courtesy of Praisaeng/FreeDigitalPhots.Net)

 

Many senior citizens find that after they reach a certain age, they require some assistance in getting around when walking. Walkers are among the most popular mobility aids, whether used on a regular or a temporary basis. Because a walker can enable a senior to stay more active and less sedentary, choosing the right one is important. Here are a few tips to consider when looking into these valuable mobility personal care aids.

  1. Assess the stability factor. Walkers generally come in a standard, no-wheel model, a two-wheeled model, and a four-wheeled model. Ifstability is a major concern – meaning, if the walker is going to need to bear a significant amount of the weight of the person using it – a no-wheel version is usually the best. Those walkers with two heels in the front and “sliders” on the back are usually recommended for those who only need to put a moderate amount of their weight onto the walker. The four-wheeled version is recommended for those who really are using the walker to help with balance and don’t need to put much weight at all on the walker itself.
  2. Consider the weight of the walker. In general, walkers that have to support more weight from the patient are heavier than those for which weight bearing is not much of an issue. Unfortunately, the heavier the walker, the more difficult it is to lift, which can become an issue if it is used for long stretches of time, especially on uneven surfaces. Try to find a walker that is as lightweight as possible but that still is sturdy enough to properly support the needed weight.
  3. Think about the folding option. If the senior in question only travels within a small area, such as around the house and neighborhood, a folding walker may not be necessary; however, if the senior takes many trips in cars, trains, or planes, getting a walker that folds easily and compactly can be a big benefit.
  4. Make sure the fit is good. When a senior chooses a walker, he or she needs to make sure that it is the right size and height. To get the right measurement, the senior should stand (wearing his or her usual shoes) with arms hanging down at the sides in a natural manner. Take a measurement when the senior is in this position; one end of the tape measure should be at the wrist, the other should extend straight down to the floor. This should give a good basic idea of the height to which the walker should be adjusted.
  5. Pick the grip. Most walkers have a choice of either a plastic or a fabric grip, and the size of the grip may vary. The senior should choose the grip that best fits his or her needs.

Walkers are common mobility aids that can help seniors to get around more easily. Take time to choose the walker that works best for your specific needs.

 

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Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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