Is a Walker Better than a Rollator?

A Look at the Benefits of a Walker

A man using a walker.
A man using a walker.. Portra Images/Getty Images

Walkers and rollators have been around for a few decades now. They have both done wonders for people who want to maintain an independent lifestyle but need a little extra help getting around.

Who Needs a Walker?

More and more seniors want to stay in their own home and they often live alone. Many also have conditions like hip and back problems, arthritis, and severe breathing conditions that inhibit their ability to walk and limit their endurance.

That is not to say that you won't find many seniors in assisted living residences and nursing homes who also use a walker or rollator. They are probably more common in these residences and even then, a walker or a rollator could prolong independence.

What is a Walker?

A walker is a type of mobility aid used to help people who are still able to walk (e.g. don't require a wheelchair) yet need assistance. It is a four-legged frame that allows a person to lean on it for balance, support, and rest.

Walkers are usually made out of aluminum so they are light enough to be picked up and moved easily. They often have comfort grips made of foam, gel, or rubber to enhance the user's comfort.

The tips of the legs are typically covered with rubber caps that are designed to prevent slipping and improve stability.

Types of Walkers

There are different styles of walkers that you should be aware of before you make a purchase.

Here is a list of the most common types of walkers along with the key points that make them different.

It should be noted that some of these features are not exclusive of each other. For example, you can get a "folding walker" with "height-adjustability" included.

Folding Walkers

Folding walkers are simply walkers that can be folded easily for transport.

The mechanism to fold the walker is typically a two-button system. Push the buttons in and the walker collapses and folds flat so it will fit easily in a car, bus, or plane.

Height-Adjustable Walkers

Some walkers have a range of pins or buttons that can be pressed to adjust and set the height of the walker so the handles fit you properly. The range of some walkers spans enough height that they can be used for both adults and children.

Hemi Walkers

A hemi walker allows the user to lean on just one side for support. It is designed for people with little or no dexterity in one arm or hand.

Since it looks like half of a walker, it makes sense that it is about half the weight of a folding walker. Hemi walkers are considered more stable than a cane, so they certainly have their niche.

Walker with Front Wheels

You can also find a walker (folding, height-adjustable) that has a wheel on each of the front legs. The purpose of the wheels is to help you maneuver over difficult terrain.

Most designs have 5-inch wheels.

Rise-Assistance Walker

There are walkers on the market now that have a front handle that slopes lower on the user's side.

When seated in a chair or at the edge of their bed, the user can reach a lower portion of the handle and use it for leverage to pull themselves up.

Glider Walker with Platform Attachment

This design includes what looks like a low-height walker.

On each side, you will see a pole rising up. On the top of the poles are soft vinyl platforms to rest your forearms. In front of these comfort platforms, you will find handles for gripping.

This design may assist your stability if you prefer to bear your weight on your forearms rather than elbows and shoulders.

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