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Choosing Your Rollator

Choosing a Rollator for Safe Mobility

Choosing a rollator is not all that difficult to do. But if you choose the wrong one is could be at best inconvenient or at worst, just dangerous.

Everybody is different with different needs so what works for one person may not work for another.

First, let’s take a quick look the different types of walkers and rollators.

Some people may need help with balance or with strength and endurance. Normally this type of personal mobility need requires the standard frame walker with no wheels. If the person using the walker needs help with these issues, at any time during their walk, a walker with wheels could roll away when what they really needed was stability assistance.

Rollators (rolling walkers) normally have four wheels, hand brakes and a seat. They are produced in many different configurations, sizes and colors. They are intended to provide some support for the person with only minimum mobility needs. If you need some help with endurance or minor balance assistance, then a rollator is just what the doctor order. If fact, discussing your needs with your doctor or physical therapist will help you to know what’s best for you.

In choosing your rollator there are three things to consider: height, weight and wheels.

Height

  • The height of the handles is important for balance. Too low and the user will lean forward (bad for balance). Too high and the user’s arms will be at the wrong angle which is bad for support. Most rollators will come with adjustable handles.
  • To get the handles to the correct height, have the user stand as straight as possible with their arms hanging loose at their side. Use a tape measure and measure from the floor to the crease in the wrist, just above the hand. That measurement is the optimum height for the handles of your rollator.
  • The height of the seat is next. With the user standing, measure from the floor to the bend behind the knee. That is the optimum height for the seat. Write down both measurements. Some rollators have a range of adjustment for the seat and others do not. In which case you need to choose one with a seat height that works for you.

Weight

  • Weight of the user is an important consideration. Walkers that accommodate 250 to 300 lbs. are plentiful. There are bariatric models rated for 400 to 600 lbs. and more. Those with greater weight limits are usually are more expensive. All walkers will have the weight capacity listed in the product specifications.
  • You might also consider the weight of the rollator itself. You’ll probably want to fold and load it into your car when traveling about town. Check out the product weight before you buy to make sure you can handle it.

Wheels

  • The wheels on the walker can affect the ease of use on different terrains. It depends on where the user will most often use the walker. Most rollators come with wheel sizes from 6 to 8 inches, although you may find some that are 4 or 5 inches. The weight limit of the walker can also affect the wheel size.
  • If the user will be using the walker indoors most of the time, smaller wheels will suffice. Smaller wheels can fit in tighter spaces for better maneuvering.
  • For outdoor use the larger 8” wheel will be much easier to use. Many walkers will be listed as “good for outdoor use.” Larger wheels are perfectly acceptable for indoor use if tight spaces are not an issue.

Once you narrow down the type and size you can add all the extra features you want. There are bags, lights, cup holders and more. Just don’t let price be the sole factor in making your choice. Cheap rollators are just that – cheap. Most of the features in a better walker are usually worth the extra expense.

Taking the time to determine which rollator will accommodate your needs will help in improving your independence and peace of mind.

4 thoughts on “Choosing Your Rollator

  1. Nice overview on the options and considerations when choosing a rollator!

    Best!
    Andrew

  2. Thanks Andrew!

  3. Should the caregiver be walking behind the person using the rollator, in front of, or next to the person?

  4. That’s a good question. Unfortunately, I’m going to give that dreaded answer,.. “it depends”. But in general I can say this. First. if the patient has balance issues, You might consider using a standard walker (the kind without wheels on it). Because a rollator may roll away from them faster that they can keep up.

    Second, the patient should wear a Gait Belt. This gives the helper something to hang onto without grabbing arms or clothes. Search for “gait belt” in our search box and you’ll find plenty of info on that.

    Third, the health conditions and mobility of the patient will determine the best equipment and procedures to use to help the patient in a safe and productive manner. A Physical Therapist is the best person to to evaluate the patient’s ability.

    Having said all that, in my house, I’ve seen the PT walk behind or to the side with one hand on the walker and the other on the patient’s gait belt.

    Good luck,
    Greg

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