Buying mobility aids like walkers is an unfamiliar process for most elderly people and their families. Whether you are buying for yourself or a loved one, you want to get the best walking aid for your needs. After all, the goal here is to improve quality of life. Many people though don't know where to buy a walker for elderly loved ones. But, don't worry. I am going to walk you through all of your options. And, I am going to give you the pros and cons for each.
There are many different options for purchasing a walker. The best option for you depends on a few different things.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Remember your answers to these questions. We will come back to them later.
There are many places you can go to buy a walker. Many more than you probably realize. Some are quite obvious. But, I am betting a few of these you have not considered.
This is probably the first place that comes to mind. Of course, it is for me since I work for a DME as custom wheelchair specialist.
Durable Medical Equipment (DME) stores have several significant advantages. The main one is product knowledge. Usually, the employees at a DME are familiar with the equipment and know how to use and fit it. They also know the options available for a walker. The second advantage is that a DME is probably going to be able to bill your insurance for you. They will know the process for qualifying a patient for a walker. A third advantage is that you can see, touch, and feel a piece of equipment before buying it.
However, a DME has a few disadvantages, too. First, the total number of options are limited. Most DME's bill insurance so their product mix will be geared towards walkers that insurance companies will buy. For example, they may not have narrow walkers or shorter walkers in stock for smaller space and shorter people. Although, a good DME will have a few other options for anyone who wants to upgrade to a better product. Second, a DME's prices may be higher than other places to by a walker. Many DME's are locally owned and don't have the buying power of a large company. But, the trade-off is the product knowledge I discussed above.
Many retail pharmacies like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens sell walkers and other medical equipment.
Large retail pharmacies have several advantages, too. First, because many pharmacies are national chains, they have better buying power than local stores. So their prices are pretty good. Some retail pharmacies also have billing departments that bill insurance for basic walkers and medical equipment. Also, you are able to see the actual product before buying it.
However, there are a few disadvantages to consider with a retail pharmacy. First, many of the employees are minimum wage cashiers who have no experience or training in mobility equipment and walkers. So, they typically won't have much product knowledge in these areas. Second, because retail shelf and storage space is at a premium, these stores have limited selections and choice may be limited to a brand or two.
Many big box retailers, especially those with pharmacies, sell walkers. You can buy walkers for elderly people at Walmart, Target, and Kmart.
The main advantages of a big box retailer are price and availability. Big box retailers like Target and Walmart will have the lowest prices with the exception of online retailers maybe. Also, you can leave the store with the walker. No waiting for shipping. Finally, since the product is there, you will be able to see, touch, and feel the walker before buying it.
Like other physical locations to buy a walker, selection and choice is limited. Big box stores usually only sell one brand or maybe two. Also, you will have to pay out of pocket for the walker but there will be several payment options. Finally, don't expect to get answers to your questions at a retail store. Most retail staff are not trained or knowledgeable about mobility equipment like walkers.
The internet is full of online medical equipment stores. Many of these stores are online branches of physical DME's and some exist on the internet only.
Online medical stores have some pretty important advantages. The first advantage is a combination of lower prices with lots of selection. Online stores do not have the overhead of a retail store and can sell walkers at lower prices. This also allows them to offer more choices of models and brands. Some online medical stores bill insurance and most will help you get reimbursed by your insurance company for walkers. Finally, because these stores specialize in this type of equipment, there is usually someone available who has significant product knowledge.
The disadvantages with online DME's are mainly related to physical location. Because these stores aren't local and exist online, the product is not available to be viewed before purchasing. Also, it will take a few days to get the walker because it is shipped to your location. Accordingly, make sure you understand the site's return policies before buying.
Many of the big box retailers have an online presence as well. For example, Walmart has a wide selection of medical equipment online that you can pick up at the store. Online only retailers like Amazon also sell medical equipment like walkers.
Large online retailers have several key advantages over their competition. First, they almost always have the lowest price on walkers and medical equipment. They also have many choices to choose from. Another advantage is reading reviews from people who purchased or used the product in the past. Reading experiences of other users from the comfort of your home is a huge benefit. Similarly, the ability to ask questions of actual users is a good thing. Especially when buying a walker online.
The disadvantages are similar to those of retail stores and online DME's. You will have to wait a few days to get the walker after purchasing it. You also cannot physically see the product before ordering. Also, most online retailers cannot answer detailed questions about the walker. Their customer service reps are trained in managing orders and returns, not medical products. Most online retailers use their online community to answer these types of questions.
Before shopping for a walker, it is best to learn about the different types of walkers and the proper way to use a walker. This will help you make an educated buying decision. Next, consider where to buy the walker.
Remember those questions I asked at the beginning? Using your answers, you should now have a good idea about where to buy walkers for elderly and seniors. The following chart summarizes this for you:
So, which place did you buy your walker? Please share your experience with me and my readers. If you have another suggestion I missed, please leave it in the comments below. Also, questions are always welcome!
I work daily with seniors and the elderly in my position as a wheelchair specialist at a home medical company. I see the struggle they have maintaining their independence and living their daily lives. Most are completely unaware of the options and products out there that can improve their independence, mobility, and safety in their home. I created this site to help seniors, elders, and their caregivers make smart buying decisions about the many independent living aids on the market.
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