Are walkers safe for elderly?
Although I’d heard a lot about how walkers help seniors with mobility issues, I wasn’t sure about all the details.
I needed the best stand up walker with seat for my grandma, and I had to decide quickly. So I went out on an information fishing expedition.
Below is a quick roundup of what I found.
Table of Contents
Are Rollator Walkers Safe for the Elderly?
Rollator walkers are pretty safe for older adults if they use them correctly. They offer a better grip for people struggling to get a comfortable grip on standard walkers.
As people age, their bones lose the strength of their youth. They need mobility devices to assist with movement.
One such assistive device is a rolling walker, a rollator walker, or simply a rollator.
These mobility aids offer excellent support to seniors with mobility issues. But how safe are rollator walkers?
However, balance issues still become an issue since rollator walkers lack the stability you’d get from a four-wheeled walker.
Incorrect use is one of the most significant causes of falling risks when using walkers and other related mobility devices (1).
For instance, users sometimes forget to adjust to the correct height. That’s despite most walkers being height adjustable.
Also, most basic walkers need someone strong enough to lift them. That’s where great upper body strength comes in.
However, not all walkers need a user to lift them clean off the ground. For instance, rolling walkers move with the user’s gentlest push.
There are always risks or dexterity issues when using assistive devices. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a safe way to use all types of walkers.
Here’s a quick video of the different types of walkers.
So, are walkers safe for the elderly? Yes, they can be safe if you strictly follow safety tips.
Walkers For Seniors: Safety Tips
There is a wide variety of walkers for seniors. All these offer a different weight capacity while offering different stability levels.
Does a walker help with back pain, though? How can you safely use a walker? Here is how:
1. Have Enough Upper Body Strength
Most walkers have excellent features to make them easier to use. This might include large 6-inch wheels or even brake locks to make them easier to maneuver.
However, an elder must have the proper upper body strength to use them safely. That’s why most physical therapists recommend walkers with lightweight frames.
2. Maintain the Correct Posture
Incorrect position contributes to the reputation of walkers as unsafe mobility aids (2).
I had a terrible time getting my grandma to use her walker with the right posture. Taller people have a lower center of gravity than shorter people, making it hard for them to get the correct posture.
The correct posture is integral to an elder having a smooth ride with the walker, even on different terrain.
3. Avoid Pushing the Walker too Far
Walkers are merely there to help an elder walk. Even with optimal steering, you can’t trust them to lead you when walking. That’s why you shouldn’t push the walker too far away in front of you.
4. Choose the Correct Walker
Most rollators have an adjustable height to make them easier to use for different sizes of people. However, you can’t adjust them all, so picking the correct walker is prudent.
You can get a decent upright walker at an affordable price if you can’t afford expensive walkers.
5. Practice Using the Walker
If going for a standard walker, you need to know how to use walker without wheels.
Practicing lets you know if the medical walker has any extra weight that would make it difficult to use (3).
You also familiarise yourself with adjustable handle heights to get a feel of the best ones.
Check out this video for more guidance on using a walker correctly.
Now, let’s take a look at the signs you might need a mobility aid.
When Should an Elderly Person Use a Walker?
When my grandma started losing her balance often, we struggled to convince her to start using a walker.
Most seniors don’t want to lose their independence like that. However, there are always telltale signs an older adult needs to start using a walker.
1. When Walking Becomes Painful
When walking becomes a painful experience, you need help. The effectiveness of walkers is such that you won’t have to persevere with the pain anymore.
Most enable an elder to walk at maximum comfort thanks to enhanced mobility.
2. After Your Doctor Recommends One
Seniors respond well to medical advice unless they forget. When a doctor says you need a walker, you better start looking up the medical devices asap.
3. When Stumbling Becomes too Common
There’s no more unmistakable sign you need a walker than when you have a fall. Without health care interventions, the falls could prove fatal.
Analyses of studies show a body of evidence to prove falls are quite a menace among the elderly (4). So when you start falling, it’s time to act.
4. Sporadic Loss of Balance or Unsteadiness When Walking
Loss of balance causes limited dexterity, which then makes it a problem for you to walk. When you suddenly realize you feel unsteady when walking, it’s time to consider a walker.
Check out this video to know where to buy a walker.
READ MORE: How Do You Lock the Brakes on Rolling Walkers?
Is it safe to use a walker as a wheelchair?
No, it’s not. Normal walkers don’t allow you to do that, nor do seat walkers.
Wheels versus walkers? Which Is Best?
Traditional walkers offer the greatest support, while front-wheeled walkers are perfect for uneven terrains.
Are walkers safe for elderly persons? Absolutely! You, however, need to use them safely to avoid accidents.
I hope this article has enlightened you on how to use a walker safely. What are your thoughts on when seniors should start using walkers?
Please share your comments below.
- 1. Thies SB, Bates A, Costamagna E, Kenney L, Granat M, Webb J, et al. Are older people putting themselves at risk when using their walking frames? BMC Geriatrics. 2020;20.
- 2. An Analysis of Problems with Walkers Encountered by Elderly Persons [Internet]. ResearchGate. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics; 2009 [cited 2022 Aug 13]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232051430_An_Analysis_of_Problems_with_Walkers_Encountered_by_Elderly_Persons#:~:text=The%20injury%20risk%20was%203.1,being%20the%20most%20common%20injury.
- 3. How to Choose a Walker for Older Adults [Internet]. WebMD. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/how-to-choose-walker-older-adults
- 4. Luz C, Bush T, Shen X. Do Canes or Walkers Make Any Difference? NonUse and Fall Injuries. The Gerontologist. 2015;57:gnv096.