Walkers for Elderly - Which One is Best?

| Saturday, May 7, 2011
By Janet Smytherton

There is no shortage of assisted walking devices that claim to support independent living for the handicapped, disabled, seniors, or those with a medical condition or injury. How can you which one is best?

You might think that well-designed, high quality assisted walking devices should be instrumental in encouraging independent living. This may work out fine in some cases. For many, however, a decline in health is often accompanied by a decline in mental faculties, including inability to learn how to operate the new assisted devise. This decline in mental faculties may exist in elderly who do not necessarily exhibit signs of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. It also could be caused by medications, heart disease, lung disease or one of many other causes.

How can you help if someone you love needs help with walking? One suggestion is that you don't wait too long before introducing the new devise. Introducing assistance early on will give your loved one the best opportunity to learn to use the walking devise safely.

Here is a list of mobility devices that are commonly used to assist with walking.

Straight Legged Walkers are designed with four legs that are connected to two handles. The legs typically have rubble stoppers that create traction and stability. The user can simply place their hands on the handle bars and walk in a normal fashion. As the user moves about the room, they must pick up the walker and reposition it on the floor. The standard model is preferred by most hospitals and rehabilitation centers because it is easiest to control. Rubber grips are often used on the handle bars for comfort. This creates a better grip for the user to handle and makes it easier to hold. Standard walkers are an excellent aid for those that have difficulty walking on their own. They allow the user to move about with ease while providing the necessary stability and balance.

Front Wheel Walkers are a common addition for many walkers and are a feature that is desired by many consumers. The front wheeled walker contains wheels only on the two front legs and are otherwise similar in design to the standard model. The advantage of the front wheel walker is that it is easier to reposition than the standard model. It does require better control on the part of the operator. This walker is not quite as stable as the standard model.

Front and Back Wheel Walkers are constructed with wheels on the front and back legs. The consumer can move about more freely because the four wheels make the walker easier to maneuver. They often have built-in seats that provide storage below, which can be very helpful when the user becomes over-tired. However, wheeled walkers do not support the weight evenly and they require more ability from the user to properly control it. In the case where the user might lose balance or stumble, this walker may wheel away and not help to prevent a fall.

Hand-breaking systems are usually provided on walkers with wheels. The user must know how and when to use the brakes in order to prevent the walker from slipping away from them.Another thing to remember is that the brakes should be checked frequently, and may need to be adjusted in order to work reliably.

A helpful addition to a walker is something that will help the user to carry objects, leaving their hands free for the walker. Many of the wheeled walkers provide under seat storage, which serves this purpose. For straight legged walkers, a walker caddy can be added for this purpose.

Seek assistance from a professional to determine which walker is best and also to determine the height (most walkers are adjustable). A walker that is set too low for the user may lead to stress on the arms, while a walker that is set too high might not provide enough stability to the user. It's important to get the right walker and the right fit, so don't hesitate to get assistance from your medical professional.

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Anonymous said...

Wheel walkers are really a great innovation to introduce to elderly mobility aids. It encourages them to go around more, move around more because it makes walking easier.

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