Using a walker can be a big lifestyle adjustment. Use this guide to get you started thinking about whether a walker is right for your needs and consider some of your options before or as you talk to your provider.
How to Know If You Need a Walker
A walker can be useful for a variety of reasons. Of course, as the name suggests, its main function is to help you walk with more ease. If you’re someone who has trouble placing weight through your legs, tires easily, experiences shortness of breath while walking, or has difficulty balancing while carrying objects, you might find that using a walker dramatically improves your quality of life. That being said, walkers are also a great solution for people who have a fear of falling or a fear of feeling socially isolated when not able to be around others. In this way, a walker can help you be more active and feel safer and more independent as you go about your daily life.
Choosing the Right Walker for You
Walkers and rollators come in a variety of options: differently shaped frames, adjustable heights, folding or non-folding, wheels or no wheels, seat or seat-less, and so on. We understand that considering all of your choices might seem a little daunting, so let’s simply things a bit. Our rule of thumb when choosing a walker is to get the one that allows you to be the most mobile that you can be without jeopardizing your safety.
Walkers and rollators can generally be placed on a spectrum from most stable to most mobile, with walkers being on the stable end and rollators on the mobile end. To figure out where your needs fall within that same spectrum, ask yourself this: why are you getting a walker? In other words, what part of your life are you hoping a walker will improve? For instance, if the primary reason you are getting a walker is to help you with your stamina as you move, maybe a rollator or a walker with wheels on the two front legs is the best option for you. On the other hand, if you need support to stay upright due to a hip fracture or a wound on your leg, a regular walker without wheels will give you the most stability.
We hope that this gives you a great starting point, but we certainly understand that it may be helpful to talk through your options with someone who can answer your questions. Of course, you’re welcome to call one of our Tomorrow Health Advocate at any time, but we always recommend getting advice directly from a clinician who understands your medical history and lifestyle before actually purchasing anything.
Finding the Right Height
Walkers’ and rollators’ “handlebar heights” are typically listed in a range of inches (e.g. 30-32in). To figure out what height is right for you, stand up straight while wearing your typical walking shoes, and hang your arms naturally at your sides. Then, measure how high above the ground your wrists are (in inches). This measurement is the handlebar height for you. Note: if you are above 6 feet or below 5 feet tall, you might want to look into walkers that are specifically designed for taller or shorter users.