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home | Equipment | Standard Walker or Rolling Walker: W . . .

Standard Walker or Rolling Walker: What Kind of Walker is Best For Your Senior?

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Rolling walkers with hand brakes and built-in seats are now all the rage among our seniors. Visit a senior residence and you'll see real competition for the fanciest rolling walker with the most bells and whistles. The poor resident with a standard walker simply can't compete, even with those snazzy tennis ball cups on the walker feet.

While they're the "in" thing, and while rolling walkers are the best things since sliced bread for many older people who just need some support when walking, they aren't for everyone. Be careful before you purchase a rolling walker for your parent or other senior.

Someone who is forgetful may have trouble remembering how to use the hand brakes on a rolling walker. This can lead to frustration and even serious falls.

Arthritic hands and wrists may also make squeezing the hand brake on a rolling walker difficult. Be sure to test this feature out before you buy. Your elder won't be likely to use a walker if it's painful to stop!

Rolling walkers can move quickly. Individuals who need to support all or most of their weight on a walker will usually fare better with a standard walker, which won't tend to roll out from under their weight if a knee gives way. For the impulsive individual who wants to move too fast for safety, a standard walker will usually slow things down considerably.

Three-Point Walker
   Three-Point Walker
Keep in mind that three-point rolling walkers are tippy. They will work for some people who simply need a bit of support while walking and who can remember not to let their walker "lead" by too great a distance. If all three wheels are not firmly on the ground, a three-wheel walker will go over very easily. If your elder has serious balance problems, a three-wheel walker is usually a poor choice.

Standard Walker
   Standard Walker
Avoid the temptation to buy a walker for your elderly loved one without getting some professional advice. If your senior lives in a residential facility you can usually find someone on staff who can give you some expert advice about whether a standard or a rolling walker would be the better choice. If your elder is receiving physical or occupational therapy, get recommendations from the therapist.

If you and your parent's doctor agree that a walker would be a good safety move and you don't have ready access to an expert, ask the doctor for a physical therapy referral. A physical therapist can also help you select the proper size device for your elder and educate you about any available add-ons to make using it easier.