4 Tips to Choose the Best Walker or Rollator
Before deciding on a specific model, you will first need to determine generally if a walker or rollator is better suited for you. Read more on our page All About Walkers and Rollators.
1. Indoor or outdoor use and stability needs
What do you need the most help with? The type of walker or rollator you choose will depend on your needs.
A standard walker with no wheels will offer the most support and stability. It should mainly be used indoors or for short distances because the walking pace is slowed down significantly and lifting the walker repeatedly may get tiring. Although two-wheel walkers offer less support and stability than standard walkers, they are still quite effective and more stable than rollators and allow you to maintain a more natural gait. They are also better options for outdoor use.
If you decide to go with a rollator and are mainly using it indoors, choose a rollator with smaller wheels. Measure the doorways in your home to make sure that the rollator will fit through them. If the door is hinged, you may lose an additional 2″ from the doorway. Make sure you choose a rollator that can be maneuvered in the hallways and into rooms. For use outdoors, choose a rollator with wheels that are 8″ in diameter or bigger. Larger wheels handle rough terrain better. 3-wheel rollators are easier to maneuver but are not as stable as 4-wheel rollators. If you need more support walking long distances or need to take short breaks on your walks, a four-wheel rollator may be the right choice for you.
2. Fit of the walker or rollator
Before you purchase a walker or rollator, you need to make sure it can accommodate your height and weight. To do this, you need to be measured properly. You can check the listed weight capacity of products online to make sure they can properly support your weight. You can measure yourself, or visit a dealer’s showroom where you can be measured and you can try out different models.
To measure the handle height:
i) Stand up straight with your arms hanging naturally at your sides.
ii) Have a friend measure from the floor to the crease of your inner wrist. Your elbows should be at a 15-degree angle when holding on to the grips of the walker with your shoulders and arms relaxed.
For rollators with a seat, measure the height and width of the seat before you buy to make sure you can sit comfortably.
Having the right grips for your hands will make a big difference in how comfortable the walker or rollator will be for you to use. Most come with plastic grips, but if you have hands that tend to sweat, a softer grip may be preferable. People with arthritis or other grasping ailments may benefit from larger grips. For rollators, your hands must be able to comfortably hold on to the grips while also easily engaging the brakes.
Speak to an occupational therapist for advice on the grips that would be the most comfortable for you, or try them out in a dealer’s showroom.
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4. Portability and storage
If you live in a small home or travel in a car regularly, you may prefer a walker or rollator that folds easily. Some walkers have one button, two buttons, paddle or trigger folding mechanisms that are easy to use, even for people with weaker hands. Make sure that when you unfold the walker, the locks engage to keep the walker in the open position (with most folding walkers you should hear or feel it “click,” if not, give it a quick test to make sure it is locked in place). To travel in a car, you will have to be able to fold and lift the walker to place it in the trunk.
Three-wheel rollators tend to be lighter and fold up into smaller sizes. In small homes or apartments, a foldable walker or rollator may be easier to store when it’s not in use.