The Best Walker for Seniors: The Ultimate Buying Guide
Losing your mobility can sometimes mean a reduction in your quality of life. Not being able to get up and go by yourself usually makes you rely on others for basic needs like getting something to eat or getting to the bathroom. But, there are many mobility aids that can help with. And, one of the most common mobility aids is a walker But, do you know what kind you should use or choose for an elderly loved one. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the process of choosing a walker and make a few recommendations of what I think is the best walker for seniors who need a little help with their mobility.
In a hurry? Click here to jump right to my recommended walkers for seniors. Or, keep on reading this guide for the information you need to shop on your own.
- Loss of Mobility
- Types of Walkers
- Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Walker for Your Needs
- Recommendations and Reviews: The Best Walkers for Seniors
- Comparison Chart: Walkers That I Recommend
- Drive Medical 2 Button Folding Universal Walker – Best Front Wheeled Walker
- Medline Freedom Rollator Walker – Best Rollator Walker for Seniors
- Medline Heavy Duty Bariatric Rollator Walker – Best Heavy Duty Bariatric Rollator Walker
- Drive Medical Winnie Lite – Best Three Wheel Walker for Seniors
- Summary and Final Recommendations
Loss of Mobility
The loss of mobility can be completely devastating to many seniors. This is a usually proud group and many don’t want to start depending on family members for their care. Dealing with a loff of mobility can be frustrating and even embarrassing.
There are many reasons why an elderly person loses their ability to walk without assistance. Medical problems such as heart disease or COPD are common causes. Neurological problems like strokes or neuropathy are other reasons.
Regardless of the reason though, it is important to discuss any decline in walking with your medical professionals. Sometimes medications and therapy can help the situation. Physical or occupational therapists can use exercises and stretches to improve a senior’s mobility.
But, you’ll be forced to rely on a walking aid like a cane or a walker if none of these treatments help. Your therapist and doctor are the best people to recommend a type of equipment based on your situation and medical status. You should always consult with a medical professional when choosing a mobility aid.
Types of Walkers
So, once you have determined that a walker is needed to help with your mobility, it is time to get educated about the types of walkers that are available. Unfortunately, this is a subject that most people know nothing about until the time comes that they need one. I have an entire article that goes into great detail about the types of walkers that you can read by clicking here if you really want to learn the all the nitty-gritty details about walkers.
Or, here is a quick rundown of the different kinds of walkers you will see when shopping for a walker:
The Standard Walker or Front Wheeled Walker
The standard walker is probably the one you are most familiar with. It is basically four metal legs with a handlebar that the user holds onto and moves it. These walkers usually fold up for easy transportation or to store them out of the way when they are not being used.
The most common variation of this walker is the front wheeled walker. These are just standard walkers with wheels attached to the front. There is also usually something attached to the back legs to make them slide along with the walker. Special attachments called glide tips and glide skis are used for this purpose. It is also not at all uncommon to see a walker with tennis balls on the back legs to help the walker glide.
The big advantage to a standard walker with or without wheels is that they are very lightweight and fold up very easily. Most of these walkers weigh 10 lbs or less. So, they are easy for most seniors to pick up and move. When you add wheels the front, they are even easier to move because they can glide along the floor.
However, there is an equally large disadvantage to a standard walker. If the senior tires while they are walking, there is nowhere to rest. They must move as quickly as possible to a seat or risk falling if a knee buckles or their legs give way.
The Rollator Walker or 4 Wheel Walker With Seat
The rollator walker is a variation on the front wheeled walker. A rollator walker has 4 wheels ( a wheel on each leg) and a set of brakes that are activated by squeezing a set of handles. But, the biggest advantage to the rollator walker is that it comes with a seat.
The seat on a rollator provides a place to rest if a senior gets tires or suddenly dizzy. The wheels can quickly be locked by pulling on the handles and the senior can turn around and sit. This gives them a safe place to rest until they feel like moving again. Thes seats on rollators also usually hide a basket where other items can be carried or stored.
The drawback to a rollator is that they are larger and heavier than a standard walker. May of these weigh 20 lbs or so. Although, I will be recommending a few models later that are significantly lighter than that.
I’ve got a full article with more information about rollators that you can check out by clicking here where you can learn more about these 4 wheel walkers with seats.
The Triangle Walker or Three-Wheeled Rollator
These rolling walkers are a variation on the 4 wheeled rollators. I talked about above. But, they only have three legs and wheels and are triangle shaped with one leg in the front and two rear legs. Like their 4 wheeled cousins, they also have brakes that can be used to prevent the rollator from moving.
The unusual shape of three-wheeled rollators has a distinct advantage: they are smaller and more maneuverable. Because the front of the walker comes to a point, it is easier to make sharp turns and move the walker through a narrow doorway or congested house.
But, because of their shape, this version of the rollator does not have a seat. Because of the triangle profile of this mobility aid there just isn’t room. But they do have baskets like the 4 wheel models for carrying and storage.
You can click here to read my complete guide on three-wheeled walkers for more details.
Other Types of Walkers
There are a few other walkers out there too that are designed for more specialty purposes. For instance, there are knee walkers that are temporary walkers for broken legs or injury to a single leg. You may have also heard these called knee scooters. They have a foam cushioned pad where the broken leg can rest along with a handlebar. The user rides along with the injured leg bent on the pad and they push themselves along with the good leg. Steering is done with the handlebars. Knee walkers have definite advantages that make them a great mobility aid for outdoor use. You can learn more about the uses for knee walkers in this guide here.
Another specialty walker that is often used with seniors is the hemi walker. Think of hemi walkers as a combination walking cane and walker. They are designed to be used on one side of the body to assist with walking. Usually, the person using a hemi walker has had a stroke with weakness or damage to one side of the body but is unable to safely use a cane. Hemi walkers also fold up for storage and transportation. Like a walking cane, hemi walkers are used to the side of the body rather than in front of the body. Also like a cane. they are used on the opposite side of the injury. Hemi walkers must be picked up and moved – they do not have wheels.
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Walker for Your Needs
Now that you have a basic understanding of the differences among the various types of walkers out there, let’s talk about features, options and how to shop for a walker.
How Long Will the Walker Be Needed?
How long you need a walker is a major factor in choosing the best walker for seniors. For example, a walker is sometimes only needed temporarily for an injury to heal. Another great example of a temporary use for a walker is after a total hip surgery. In these instances when a full recovery is expected, the walker is only needed during the healing phase, then the senior will resume their previous level of mobility.
So, the best walkers for seniors with a temporary need are usually standard walkers or a front wheeled walker. These walkers are inexpensive and readily available at medical stores, pharmacies, and even online. Scroll down to read about my favorites.
But, often a more permanent decline in mobility happens. If this is the case, the standard front wheel walkers or rollator walkers are the best choice. Rollator walkers are a little more expensive but they offer additional safety features like the seat and brakes.
How Much Space Do You Have?
Walkers do take up some room in the home and it is important that they be able to maneuver through the home including its doorways. Measure the inside of the doorways of the home and compare it to the overall width of the walker you are looking at. Obviously, you want the walker to be narrower than the doorway. But, sometimes that is a difficult task. Usually, it is the bathroom door that gives people the most problems.
There is a trick for using standard front-wheeled walkers in tight spaces. You can reverse the wheels so that they are on the inside of the frame instead of the outside. This will make the overall width of the walker narrower.
For homes with tight spaces or narrow doorways, front wheeled walkers or three-wheel rollators are usually best. There are a few four wheeled rollators that come in more narrow widths and smaller sizes too. Some of these will be in my recommendations below or I have a guide to small walkers for narrow spaces that you can read by clicking here.
Where Will the Walker Be Used?
Will the walker be used only inside the home or will it be used outside also? Will it be used in uneven terrain like a yard or will it stay on smooth, paved surfaces? These are important questions to ask because the types of walkers perform differently on different surfaces.
The best walker for seniors who will be using their walker on varying terrain is a four-wheeled rollator. This style of walker typically has larger wheels which would work better in yards or uneven surfaces. The larger wheels will roll smoother and be safer to use in these areas.
On the other hand, standard front wheel walkers are fine for indoor use. The wheels on front-wheeled walkers are smaller and are better on flat, even surfaces. The exception being homes with deep, plush carpets. This style of carpet requires a larger wheel too.
Does the User Need to Take Rest Breaks?
If the senior tires easily or gets off balance, they may require frequent rest breaks to regain their breath or energy. Like I said above, rollators are the best walkers for seniors who need to stop and rest.
Size of the User
While many walkers are designed to fit most seniors, there are some people who will have trouble using standard walkers. People who are extremely tall or very short will struggle to use a regularly sized walker. Also, many walkers have weight limits, so larger people need to make sure the walker is designed to support their weight.
It is important that a walker is sized correctly for the person who is using it because it greatly affects whether or not they can use the walker properly. When a walker is properly sized, the handle area of the walker will be positioned right at the user’s wrists. The position is the best because it reduces strain on the shoulders, wrist, and back while the senior is using the walker.
So, if the walker is too short for the person, they will have to bend over to reach the handles of the walker. This could cause back pain and is not a safe walking position. Conversely, if a walker is too tall for the user, it will not properly support the person and will cause strain on the shoulders and the wrists.
Fortunately, most walkers are adjustable in height using simple push pin adjustments. Standard walkers usually adjust in the legs to make them taller or shorter. For rollators, the handles are height adjustable to fit the user. Walkers that are specially designed for tall people offer more adjustments on the higher end. Shorter walkers are available for shorter people too.
For seniors who are over 250 lbs, carefully check the weight capacity of any walker you choose. Several models of walker top out at 250 lbs although many go to 300 lbs. Bariatric walkers are walkers for seniors who weight over 300 lbs or more. For very large people, there are also walkers that support 600 lbs and even 750 lbs.
Recommendations and Reviews: The Best Walkers for Seniors
Here are my recommended walkers for you to consider. Each of these I have had personal experience with and I can tell you the good and the bad. Although, to make this list they have to be a lot more good than bad!
Comparison Chart: Walkers That I Recommend
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Drive Medical 2 Button Folding Universal Walker – Best Front Wheeled Walker
I have said it in other posts but the Drive Medical Universal Walker is one of the best front wheel walkers for seniors. In my experience, it is as close to a truly universal product as you can get. It is narrow enough to fit through almost any doorway and also extremely lightweight and folds up very easily. This front wheeled walker even has 10″ of height adjustment to fit a wide range of seniors.
Here is why it is always one of my top recommendations:
The Drive Universal Walker is the narrowest walker that I have been able to find. It is only 21.75″ wide with or without the wheels because you can turn the wheels to the inside. This walker fits in those tight 22″ bathroom doors I talked about earlier. But, there is a drawback to a narrow walker. Larger framed people may not be able to fit between the sides. This inside measurement of this walker is 17″ between the handgrips so people who are wider than that should consider a wider walker.
Two Button Folding Walker
This is a two button folding walker which means you can fold each side in separately, one at a time. Being able to fold one side in can give stability for transfers and help it wiggle through small doorways. It makes it easier to fold up too.
Wide Range of Height Adjustment
The legs on this walker have 10″ of adjustment which means it will fit both seniors with below average and above average height. The manufacturer says it will fit seniors from 4’10” to 6’2″ tall. This makes it a great walker for tall seniors but it can also be used as a junior walker too for people of shorter stature.
Includes Wheels and Glide Tips
The walker comes with 5″ wheels on the front and glide tips on the back. Glide tips are smooth discs mounted on the back legs. This makes it easily slide across the flooring surfaces of your home. That way, the senior doesn’t have to lift it each time they take a step and the walker is always in contact with the ground.
Also, don’t forget my tip of mounting the wheels to the inside of the front legs instead of the outside. To do this, you may need to remove them and switch sides. In addition to making the walker narrower, it also keeps the wheels from getting caught on corners or furniture while the senior is using it. Just make sure it doesn’t interfere with their feet while walking.
This walker only weights 7 lbs so most any senior or caregiver can easily load it for travel. This makes it very portable.
The weight capacity of this model is 300 lbs. Double check this before ordering as weight capacities do occasionally change.Read more about the Drive Universal Walker at Amazon by clicking here.
Medline Freedom Rollator Walker – Best Rollator Walker for Seniors
For those who prefer a rollator, the Medline Freedom Rollator Walker also has many senior-friendly features and is also nearly universal. It is also one of the lightest rollators on the market and one of my favorites overall. There are many adjustable features on this rollator so it should fit most seniors – short and tall. Comfort features like a padded seat, backrest, and a storage pouch underneath the seat are included. You have 3 color choices: black, burgundy, or blue
Here is why I recommend it:
This rollator has many options on it that you can easily adjust to fit the senior without needing tools. For example, the handles are adjustable from a height of 29″ to 36″ tall. (Just a reminder: the handles should be the same level as the wrist when the user is standing upright but relaxed.) The manufacturer says it will fit seniors from 4’10” tall to 6’4″ tall.
The height of the seat is also adjustable from 18″ to 23″ off of the ground. This is important because it lets you move the seat so that the senior’s feet can make contact with the ground while they are sitting on the padded seat. This is, of course, important for the senior’s safety. you don’t want them to have to hop down off the seat risking a fall.
Padded Seat and Backrest
Like I have discussed before, the major advantage of rollators is that they have seats for seniors to rest on if they get tired. Both the seat and the backrest of this model are padded for comfort. Not every rollator has these features.
There is also a fabric storage pouch underneath the seat for personal items. Because it is solid, you don’t have to worry about small items falling through like some of the rollators with wire baskets.
Because of its lightweight aluminum construction, this rollator only weighs 11 lbs. It is one of the lightest rollators on the market and also folds flat. This makes it easy to load and unload in a car trunk for most caregivers.
The weight capacity is a little lower than some others – it is only 250 lbs. Make sure you take that into account.
You can click here to read reviews and learn more about the Medline Freedom at Amazon. I also have more recommended rollators in my Rollator Buying Guide if you want to check those out too.
Medline Heavy Duty Bariatric Rollator Walker – Best Heavy Duty Bariatric Rollator Walker
This bariatric rollator walker from Medline offers both a higher weight capacity and an extra wide padded seating area. It is one of my favorite walkers for larger people who need these features. It is also very durable and works very well for these seniors.
Here are my favorite things about this one:
Extra Wide Seat
Many rollators, even some bariatric ones, don’t fit people with wider hips very well. This rollator has one of the widest seats of all the rollators I have researched. The seating areas between the handles is 23-1/2″. There is a trade-off for this extra width though: the entire rollator is also wider. Assembled, the width of this one is 29″ overall. Make sure all doorways that the rollator must go through in the home are wide enough. I would say at least 30″.
Increased Weight Capacity
This rollator supports patients up to 500 lbs. That is one of the larger weight capacities on the market. One reason for this is the durable steel construction. The other reason is the reinforced cross brace. of course, because it is built so well it is heavier. The overall weight of this one is 25 lbs.
Adjustable Height Handles
The handles are adjustable from 31-1/2″ to 37-1/2″ from the ground. This will fit most average and taller height seniors but may not fit ones on the shorter side of the range. The seat itself is 22″ off of the floor and is not adjustable.
This rollator also has large and sturdy 8″ caster wheels. This larger size is better for going over uneven terrain than rollators with smaller wheels.
You can learn more about this bariatric rollator by clicking here .
Drive Medical Winnie Lite – Best Three Wheel Walker for Seniors
The Winnie Lite is one of my favorite walkers overall and is one of the best three walkers too. I like the Winnie because it small and easy to use, lightweight and easy to lift, and it looks good too.
While this is a preference, I really like the unique and attractive tan and black finish of this rollator. The plaid fabric storage pouch adds to the overall look of the rollator too. While this is a piece of medical equipment, I think it looks better than most.
This rollator also fits most users with an adjustment range of 31″ to 38″ high. This should easily fit seniors between 4’10” and 6’2″ tall.
Many seniors need to use a lightweight rollator because their caretakers also have medical problems and are unable to lift heavy items. This rollator is extremely easy to fold and weighs only 11 lbs do loading it shouldn’t be a problem for most.
With a weight capacity of 300 lbs, this three wheel rollator will also support most seniors.
Click here to see my other recommended three wheel walkers or check out the Winnie Lite at Amazon by clicking here .
Summary and Final Recommendations
Well, as you can see, there is a lot to know when shopping for a walker. But, using guides like this, you’ll be able to find the best walker for seniors that you love without much problem.
Like any purchase, it is always good to know what your options are. Know the difference between four wheel walkers with seats, three wheel rollators, and front wheel walkers. While it is also a good idea to understand the features that are available, it is more important to understand how an elderly person will use them and benefit from them. That’s why I have created this guide. To give you the tools you need to make your own decisions. I hope it helped.
Another option to consider is a walker that converts into a wheelchair. This can be the best of both worlds for seniors who can walk most of the time but occasionally needs more assistance. You can Rollator Transport Chair Combo: Walkers That Convert To Wheelchairsread my guide about rollator transport chair combos by clicking here.
Do you have experience shopping for a walker that you would like to share? What do you think the best walker for seniors is? Please share your opinions in the comments below. And, if this guide was at all helpful, please share it on your favorite social media.
Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®
About This Site
Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS Founder / Editor
My name is Scott Grant and I work daily with seniors as a custom wheelchair specialist at a home medical equipment company. I see these people struggle as they lose their independence. I watch their families try to help them but most don't even know where to start. Few are even aware of their options. I'm here to help!
Always consult with a medical professional before using any medical equipment.Learn more
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