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When do I need a walking or mobility aid?

Aging and certain medical conditions can inhibit everyday tasks such as walking. While certain mobility constraints may be temporary, such as rehabilitation from an injury, more permanent mobility solutions may be required in order to maintain confidence and independence. Under the direction of your medical professional or if there is an ongoing insecurity when walking, you may want to consider a mobility aid like a rollator walker or upright walker to improve your ability to perform everyday tasks both indoors and outdoors.

A top-of-mind concern is fall prevention or stability while walking. Most rollators and upright walkers offer support while walking with built-in seating, allowing users to rest while in transit. When considering the long-term use of your walking aids, it is important to understand what equipment is available and fits your specific needs.  While it is easy to be swayed into a lower-cost solution, one must keep in mind that they are investing in their independence and mobility in which the lower costs solutions may not fulfill. Typically, lower-cost solutions offer quick, easy options during short-term rehabilitation. For those considering long-term usage, investing in quality, reliability, and support (warranty) should be key considerations.

What features should be considered when purchasing a rollator or upright walker?

  • Brakes - Easily accessible brakes should be top of mind, as that offers the best feeling of control. Foot brakes traditionally were standard but left some uncertainty. Hand brakes on rollators and upright walkers can be operated quickly and easily by the user.
  • Weight - Traditionally, the thought of the heavier the frame, the more stable the mobility aid. However, the use of lightweight, sturdy metals and modern designs has transformed rollators and upright walkers to support many patient’s builds without having to possess a burdensome heavy frame. Related to user weight, it is important to adhere to the recommended weight usage identified by the manufacturers of the rollator or upright walker for safe and secure mobility.
  • Material - Aside from the frames themselves, which are commonly made from aluminum or steel, it is important to understand the quality of the materials utilized with handles, seats, backrests, and other accessories that may be available for the rollator or upright walker.
  • Wheels - The types of wheels have evolved over the years for rollators and upright walkers. Depending upon the desired usage, indoors or outdoors or both, wheel design today includes shock absorption, off-road terrain, and gripping abilities to ensure safety and smooth travels.
  • Seating - While rollators and upright walkers promote the ability to safely and securely move about, seating is just as important. Having the ability to take easily take a rest while in transit enables longer journeys and greater independence. Most mobility aids have braking systems for slowing and for resting, which allows users to confidently turn around and enjoy a seated break. Most mobility aids have an optional backrest for additional comfort while resting.  Most seats are constructed from lightweight, highly durable fabrics. Please note that users should confirm that the brakes are in the locked position prior to sitting and that their resting spot is on mostly level terrain.

While there are other features and accessories to consider when purchasing your rollator or upright walker, those mentioned above should be primary considerations. Once purchased, ongoing care and maintenance are important for the long-term use of your mobility aid. Prior to any travel, it is important to visually assess your device for any apparent signs of damage, wear or tear. Many rollator and upright walker manufacturers offer warranties, but these mainly cover faults or defects, but do not cover normal wear and tear from everyday usage to parts like brake blocks, brake wire, wheels, seats, bags, and grips. However, these items are typically replaced for a small fee and can easily be ordered.

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