How do I choose the best Walker in 2022?

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In our quest to learn more about walkers and how beneficial they are primarily to older adults, we talked to several experts who shared helpful insights on how to choose the best walker in 2022. They also shared the different types of walkers available as well as the pros and cons of each type. 

Following the expert’s interview coupled with hours of extensive research, we’ve compiled an in-depth post to help you choose the best walker for your needs. Read on to learn.

Types of Walkers

Walkers come in various designs and sizes and are suited for different functionalities. That is why it is important to know the different types of walkers that exist, their functions, and their pros and cons. This knowledge will help you choose the best walker for your particular needs.

Here are the different walker options available:

Standard Walker

This is the most known walker type and perhaps the most used. It is made of an aluminum frame to keep the weight to the minimum and four rubber-tipped legs to keep it from sliding.

A standard walker is a pretty basic walker with no wheels, seat, or other fancy features but is functional enough for people who need weight-bearing assistance or balance to move around. 

Standard walkers are best suited for indoor use and are often used by recovering or rehabbing patients, especially those who just had leg or knee injuries.

While they offer the steadiest stability, these walkers only allow for slow movement on even surfaces. They also require great stamina and upper-body strength to move it since there is plenty of lifting to do.

You can buy a standard walker from just about anywhere. They are pretty affordable, with prices starting from $55.
To use a standard walker, one must lift it off the ground to move to the next step. Here’s a video illustrating how to use a standard walker.

4-wheeled Walkers

A four-wheeled walker, also popularly known as a rollator or rolling walker, is a mobility aid with either four or three swivel wheels that make turning super easy. Unlike standard walkers, you do not have to lift a rollator but push the wheels forward.

The four-wheel walkers are more stable and easy to maneuver with especially when making turns. They also move pretty fast.

Four-wheeled walkers are suited for people with relatively great balance but require a little assistance with making movements. They are also a great option for seniors who do not like the slow pace of a standard walker or a walking cane. We talk more about four wheel walkers for seniors in another post.

Rollators come with convenient extras like a built-in seat for rest breaks, a storage pouch or basket for carrying items, hand-operated brakes, among others. Ideally, you can categorize rollators with the accessory they have. For instance, we have four wheel walkers with seats and four wheel walkers with brakes ideal for seniors.

4-wheeled walkers are suited for both outdoor use and indoor use. However, they are heavier than other types and may be tedious to load into the car’s trunk.

You can buy a four-wheel walker just about anywhere for as little as $100. Depending on the material and additional features, the price can quickly rise to hundreds of dollars.

2-wheeled Walkers

A front-wheeled walker is similar to a standard walker, except it has wheels (non-swiveling) on the front legs and rubber-tipped legs on the rear. This means that you push it forward instead of lifting it as you would with a standard walker, and therefore less upper body strength is needed.

Some models can be easily converted to standard walkers by removing the wheels. But this is only possible if the walker has removable wheels. Fortunately, most 2-wheel walkers on sale have removable wheels.

Two-wheeled walkers are best suited for people with limited mobility and can only walk slowly. Perhaps patients who are recovering or rehabbing. They are also the best walkers for seniors with weakened bodies.

These walkers are designed for indoor use, and short walks outdoors but on even surfaces. Similar to standard walkers, they are lightweight and therefore great for traveling as they are easy to load into the trunk of any car or move around.

Unfortunately, 2-wheeled walkers do not come with a seat. If you particularly want a rolling walker with a seat, consider getting one of these heavy-duty 2 wheel walkers for seniors or this four-wheel walker.

Folding Walkers

Folding walkers are basically any type of walkers that are foldable. This can be a standard walker, 2-wheel walker, 4-wheel walker or heavy-duty walker.

Folding walkers are great for people with limited storage space or people who like to travel. They are folded down to a compact and portable size.

Folding walkers tend to be lightweight and are equally easy to use. The folding takes barely a minute and requires minimal effort. Folding walkers for seniors are made with an even easier folding mechanism.

Knee Walkers

A knee walker, also known as knee caddy, knee scooter, or orthopedic scooter, is an excellent choice for people with knee or leg injury, fractured foot, sprains, fractured ankle, Achilles rupture, or tear and foot surgery. 

Compared to the other types, this walker is ridden on one leg while the injured leg is rested. To use a knee walker, you self-propel yourself with the “good” leg.

A knee walker is often used as an alternative to crutches and is only used for a while. It looks more like a kid’s scooter, except that it’s bigger and more complex. 

These walkers come in a variety of designs, sizes, and styles. They can also be 2-wheeled, 3-wheeled, or 4-wheeled and can have wheels as wide as 12 inches. In fact, the bigger the wheel size, the more stable the knee walker.

Knee walkers can be used both indoor and outdoor and, depending on the wheel type and size, can be ridden on all terrains. They have greater stability, are easy to ride, are super comfortable, and there is likely no chance of you hurting your “bad” leg since it’s elevated.

Even though they are easy to use, knee walkers require many learning trials. But that shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes.

Perhaps the biggest downside to knee walkers is that you can not move with them up and down the stairs or on steep surfaces. However, they are great because there is very little risk of falling, slipping, or tripping on surfaces compared to mobility aids like crutches.

Knee walkers come with pretty convenient features like handlebars, mini baskets, padded places to rest the knee, and handlebars. You can buy a knee walker for as little as $150.

Heavy-duty walkers

Heavy-duty walkers are also often referred to as Bariatric walkers. These are walkers designed for people with over 300 pounds in body weight. Depending on manufacturers, you can find heavy-duty walkers that support a weight capacity of up to 700 pounds.

Heavy-duty walkers are stronger, have wider than normal swivel wheels (Up to 28 inches), are more stable and comfortable. Most heavy duty walkers for seniors come with convenient features such as an ergonomic carry handle, flip-up seat, padded backrest, padded armrests, among others for maximum comfort. 

The best heavy duty walkers are foldable for easy storage and travel.

A heavy-duty walker is a general term for walkers with the aforementioned characteristics, but any type of walker can be heavy-duty. This means you can choose a standard heavy-duty walker, heavy-duty with two, three or four wheels or a heavy-duty knee walker.  

Basically, any type of walker that supports more than 300 pounds is a heavy-duty or bariatric walker.

Heavy-duty walkers are a great alternative for you if you prefer a walker with a wider padded seat, a walker that can be used on all terrains, and you weigh more than 300 pounds.

Hemi Walker

A hemi walker, also known as a one-handed walker or side stepper, is a more affordable and smaller version of a standard walker. It’s built with a simple frame, two handgrips, and four separate legs and can be held with just one hand.

A hemi walker is a great option for people whose one side of the body is weakened or have limited dexterity on one hand or leg since you only need one hand to use it.

 It’s also a great option for people who want little assistance to move around without necessarily spending a fortune on a more elaborate walker.  

Even though a hemi walker should not be relied on for weight-bearing, it has greater stability than a walking cane. It’s also lightweight as it is made from anodized aluminum tubing. 

In addition, the legs are well spaced out to offer better support for big-bodied persons. Many of the Hemi walkers are foldable, making them easy to store and transport.

How to choose the best walker for seniors

The key to getting the best walker for your needs is knowing what to look for when choosing. Given that walkers come in different sizes, price points, and styles, and the features can immensely vary from one manufacturer to another, selecting the right one can quickly become a daunting task.

To make your shopping experience a pleasant one, we did a little homework for you. Below we share some factors to consider when choosing the best walker in 2022.

Safety features

The very first thing you want to consider is your safety. A walker is a mobility aid that is designed to help you live a quality life and should therefore not be a walking hazard. 

You, therefore, want to confirm and re-confirm that there are safety features in place like brakes, rubberized legs, ringing bell- name it. Particularly if considering a rolling walker.

While standard walkers do not need to have a braking system, rollators certainly need to have one. This can be something as basic as a loop brake that you will need to squeeze a lever every time you want to brake or a push-down brake that requires very little force from you to push down. 

It really doesn’t matter how simple or complex it is, as long as it is there and you as the user can use it. It is vital, especially if you have hand dexterity.

The wheels

Different types of walkers have different numbers of wheels, as we’ve seen from the earlier section. Regardless of the number of wheels, the most important thing to check is the size of the wheels and the thickness of the tires. This is especially important when choosing an outdoor walker.

Thicker wheels are best suited for outdoor use but can also be used indoor, whereas thinner wheels are only recommended for indoor use. This is because thicker wheels can maneuver pretty well on uneven outdoor terrain.

The frame

You must also pay attention to the frame- materials used and the frame’s dimensions. The materials used will determine how lightweight the walker will be and, similarly, how durable it will be.

For a standard walker that you would need to lift as you walk, a lighter frame like the one made from anodized aluminum is most preferred. For an outdoor walker like the rollator or heavy-duty walker, you might consider a slightly heavier frame but one that is still light enough for ease of transportation.

You also want to go for a foldable frame. These frames make it easy to store the walkers as well as move around with them since they fit into most vehicle trunks.

Lastly, you want to check the dimensions of the frame. Is the frame tall enough for you or you’d be straining your back to reach for the walker?

Width

An indoor walker needs to fit through all your doorways with ease, so be sure to check the dimensions of the width, especially because some models are narrower while others are wider at the base.

You also need to check the width between the handles to ensure that your hips fit between the handles. Allow atleast an inch on all sides for clearance.

Most walkers range between 22 to 27 inches in width, but given that some bathroom doorways are narrower, you may want to measure just to be sure.

Weight of the Walker

Compared to wheelchairs, walkers are a lot lighter. However, this varies with models. 

When selecting a walker, you certainly want to stay away from a bulky walker, particularly if you need to move with it every so often. You want a walker that you can easily lift,  load, and unload into a vehicle. 

If going for a standard walker, you also want one that you can easily lift off the ground with each step forward. Even though you may be able to manage a bulkier walker, lighter walkers are a lot easier to fold down and store.

Seat height

You probably don’t need a walker with a seat if opting for an indoor walker, but having a built-in seat is very convenient and safe for an outdoor walker. You get a place to sit and rest when fatigue strikes.  

Four-wheeled walkers have seats, so if you consider getting this type of walker, you may want to check the seat dimensions- height, width, and depth. Fortunately, you can adjust the height in most models, but you must measure your ideal seat width and depth. Look for measurements that will allow you to easily move in and out of the seat.

Portability

This is one of those easy to overlook features but one that you will appreciate once you start using the walker.

A portable walker is easy to fit into the trunk of a car when traveling, fold down for storage,as well as lift up and down.

Handlebars

You will find that most of the handlebars on walkers are made of plastic which wears out really fast, and you may need to replace them quite often. Plastic is also not the best material as it is uncomfortable on the hand.

Suppose you are going to be using your walker often. In that case, you should consider long-lasting and comfortable alternatives like foam hand grips which are softer or padded handgrips, which offer additional cushioning. Another great alternative, although more expensive, is the gel hand grips. The latter provides better cushioning, tighter grip, and extra comfort since it is overly soft.

Weight Capacity

All walkers come labeled with a weight limit, so look for one that can support your weight. Except for heavy duty walkers that support weight over 300 pounds, most have a weight capacity ranging between 200 and 300 pounds. If your weight is on the 300-pound mark, we suggest Comodita Prima Rolling Walker. It supports weights of up to 400 pounds.

Foldability

Most walkers will be foldable for easy transport and storage. However, some will fold down easy while some will require some muscle work. A good example is a walker with a storage basket. You will have to remove the basket first before folding it down. 

Most times, foldability is really not a huge concern if you are in the house. However, having a walker that folds down quick and easy is a plus if you travel a lot.

Also, compact foldable walkers are a huge space saver in the home.

Price

If Medicare does not cover your walker, then you should consider setting a budget. Depending on the type of walker you want, you can get a reasonably good walker for as low as $50. 

Standard walkers are the least expensive. They range between $50 and $200. Rollators on the other end of the spectrum are expensive. They range between $100 and $300, while heavy-duty walkers are the most expensive costing hundreds of dollars.

When deciding what budget to allocate, always consider the quality, usefulness, and durability. We’d suggest a budget of around $200 for a good quality walker.

Height Adjustability

A walker with low handles will force you to hunch over, and a walker with high handles will strain your arms. Getting a perfect handle height is key. However, it is not always easy to tell when buying online. 

The best solution is to get a walker whose’s handles you can adjust. Fortunately, most models can be adjusted for different heights.

When shopping for 2,3, and 4-wheeled walkers particularly,  you want to look for one that has an adjustable height. This way, you can always adjust the height for various fittings and support. 

Also, an adjustable walker can save you hundreds of bucks since multiple people can use it.

Appropriate stability

Stability is another crucial determinant when selecting a walker. A walker with greater stability is safer than one with the least stability.

You want to choose a walker with the greatest stability. For instance, a two-wheeled walker is stable but you cannot compare its degree of stability to a four-wheeled walker. If your body is weak then you need a lot of support from a walker with greater stability.

How to  measure for a walker

A walker will best serve you if it is built to meet your needs and fit your body size. The only way to be sure that it properly fits is to practically take measurements and not do some guesswork.

We suggest that you measure the width and the height of the seat as well as the depth. This will ensure that your walker is not too wide or too narrow.

To determine handle height, measure from the wrist (at the crease) to the floor. If you aren’t sure of how to go about these, you can ask for assistance from your physiotherapist to get accurate measurements.

Luckily, most of these measurements are not necessary if you choose a walker with a lot of adjustabilities. These work for pretty much anyone.

When Should an Elderly Person Get a Walker?

There is really no set age when an elderly person is expected to own a walker. This totally depends on the person’s circumstances and what they hope to achieve with a walker.

Ideally, one should get a walker when they feel their mobility is starting to get restricted. For some, this can be earlier in the aging years, while for some, they may actually never need one until well into their 80s. People age differently.

A good telling sign is when one can no longer bear the weight of their body and feel that the weight is putting a strain on one or both of their legs. This is the best time to start looking out for adult walkers on sale.

Of course, if one has just had knee surgery, hip replacement, or other health issues affecting their mobility, then they should buy a walker as soon as they can.

Also, if one has balance issues, it’s advisable that they get a walker immediately.

In short, if you feel that your mobility is limited, restricted, or even halted, a walker is a great and affordable option to facilitate your movement with ease and comfort.

Conclusion

Shopping for a new walker should be a pleasant experience when you know what exactly you are looking for. But most people shop blindly because they lack the right information. This is the reason behind this post,  to provide you with an in-depth guide on the different types of walkers available and how to choose the best for your particular needs.

Hopefully, you now know what you are looking for but if still unsure, consider a standard walker if you you need to bear a considerable amount of weight on the walker. If you are experiencing balance issues and need a walker with great stability to help you balance, we’d recommend a four-wheeled walker. And if looking for a rolling walker that you can bear minimal weight on, consider a two-wheeled walker.

There are plenty of places to buy walkers. We’d recommend you check out walkers from Rolstoel. They have amazingly great quality adult walkers for seniors at affordable prices. 

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