Your Complete Guide To The Best Walkers For Seniors

You’re likely familiar with what a walker is, but what you might not know is just how versatile and helpful they can be.

When moving around is a challenge, life itself can be too. That’s where using a walker comes into play.

Walkers are great mobility assistance devices meant to make walking possible. There are many options available on the market, though, so how do you know which one is right for you?

Why purchase a walker? What are the benefits?

A walker’s job is to make walking and moving around easier and safer. Not only does this lower the risk of physical injury, but it also provides seniors with the independence they may feel they’ve lost over the years. In other words, investing in a walker may aid your senior with both physical and mental health.

Walkers allow the user to balance better, support their weight, and move safely about the home or the outdoors. Potential benefits of using a walker can include:

  • Happiness and freedom: it’s no secret that having the ability to go where you want, when you want, is precious. Walkers also make it easier to do fun things, like visit a park or go to the store, without the burden of pain or discomfort.
  • Safety and peace of mind: this is especially true if your senior spends part of the day alone or without easy access to assistance; a mobility device like a walker can help reduce the risk of falls or injury
  • Reduced pain overall: if the body isn’t receiving the physical support it needs or is being pushed or strained by basic movement, it’s likely that these movements can be lessened with the help of a walker.

Walkers have great potential to make life a lot better and easier, and they’re a great first mobility device as they’re generally less expensive than other options, like wheelchairs or scooters.

How do I know if my senior needs a walker?

Here are some common reasons walkers are used:

  • To improve balance
  • Preventing falls or trips
  • Mobility issues
    • Can be caused by short-term issues or long-term issues
  • Chronic pain while walking and moving
  • Heart or respiratory illness
  • Weakness/struggling to stand on one’s own
  • Extra support while walking long distances

If your senior struggles to get around, gets tired easily, or is prone to/has an illness or other health condition, a walker might be a great addition. 

However, if you’re unsure of whether or not a walker is the right choice, or if another method might be better to help improve mobility (like some sturdy shoes, as we discuss in our guide here), speaking with a doctor is always a great idea.

What should I look for in a walker?

There are different types, shapes, sizes, and even colors of walkers on the market, so how do you know where to start? 

A good first step is to consider what your senior’s mobility issues and challenges are. Does your senior require weight-bearing support or just a device to help them balance as they move?

Different walker designs are better for different people and health conditions. Take a look at some of the different types of walkers:

Types of Walkers 

  • Standard walker: This is your traditional walker: it has four individual rubber-tipped legs and must be lifted to move around. 
  • Two-wheel walker: Unlike the standard walker, this type has two wheels in the front of the walker and two rubber-tipped legs in the back. This makes it a great option for those who need light to moderate weight support/help.
  • Three-wheel walker: This walker has three wheels for movement and is generally more lightweight than a four-wheel walker, which might make it easier to transport.
  • Four-wheel walker: With four wheels, these types of walkers are designed for those who don’t need to lean on the walker itself for balance, but still need assistance in moving/balancing/etc.
  • Knee walker: These walkers feature a platform for resting the knees. The leg that is not resting can be used to propel the walker forward.
  • Upright walker: A relatively new addition to the line-up of walkers, upright walkers allow the user to remain standing straight while using the walker instead of hunching over or bending down. This is great for overall posture and body composition, but it might not be a great option for those who find standing upright to be a challenge.

Once you’ve decided what kind of walker is right for your senior’s situation, you can begin to shop around with more ease.

How much do walkers cost?

Walker cost can range anywhere from $30-$300+, depending on the type of walker as well as the features it has, material it’s made of, and even the retailer you purchase it from.

Walkers are one of the most inexpensive options when it comes to mobility devices and support, but that doesn’t mean finding the money to buy one is easy.

If you’re struggling to cope with the financial burden of buying a walker, don’t get discouraged. There are some more affordable options available, like renting or purchasing a used walker.

Renting Walkers and Buying Used Walkers

Many retailers, both in-person and online, offer rental models of their products. They may also sell used models that they have re-purchased from others.

These listings can help you save anywhere from $10 to $100 or more, depending on the type of walker. Rental plans usually charge you on a monthly basis, and some retailers offer rent-to-own options so that your payments will eventually result in owning the walker.

If these options sound appealing to you, be sure to speak to your local retailer or reach out to specific stores/sellers for prices and options.

Does Medicare cover walkers?

Yes, Medicare can help cover the cost of walkers!

Medicare Part B (the branch of Medicare that covers medical insurance) specifically helps individuals cover the cost of what’s known as durable medical equipment, or DME. DME includes scooters, wheelchairs, and walkers. 

There are some qualifications and conditions that must be met for Medicare to help cover the cost of a walker. Usually, a doctor’s note is needed (an official submission stating that the device is medically necessary), and your senior must exhibit symptoms that suggest they need the device in question. These symptoms can include chronic pain, injury related to falls, and more. 

After paying your deductible, you can expect to pay only about 20% of the cost of the walker in question. 

Be sure to check your plan to understand what options are available for you and speak with a doctor if this route is one you’d like to pursue.

Breaking Down the Best Walkers for Seniors

Now that you understand what to look for in a walker, how much to expect to pay, and what sort of features are best suited to your senior, let’s break down some leading models on the market.

  1. Drive Medical 10200-1 Deluxe Two Button Folding Walker
    1. Price: $28.89
    2. Type of Walker: Standard
    3. Pros: Inexpensive choice, easy to use, easy to move through small/narrow spaces, features a push-button mechanism to allow the walker to fold up for easy transportation
    4. Cons: This walker’s design gives it a limited, somewhat narrow frame that might be difficult for heavyset individuals to use comfortably.
    5. Click here to view the Amazon listing
  2. Drive Medical 10210-1 Deluxe Two Button Folding Walker with 5-Inch Wheels
    1. Price: $29.56
    2. Type of Walker: Two-wheel
    3. Pros: Adjustable and foldable, has two sturdy wheels for those who need weight-bearing support (wheels can be moved on the wheeler or more wheels can be added). 
    4. Cons: Sliders and buttons used to move and fold up the walker might be difficult for those who struggle to use their hands/fingers (such as those with arthritis)
    5. Click here to view the Amazon listing
  3. Drive Medical 796 Dual Pad Steerable Knee Walker with Basket
    1. Price: $120.18
    2. Type of Walker: Knee
    3. Pros: Features a removable front basket, sturdy steel frame, and a deluxe braking mechanism to ensure safety
    4. Cons: Can’t be used very efficiently on rough terrain, nor can the walker be easily used to help with things like curbs or inclines
    5. Click here to view the Amazon listing
  4. ELENKER Upright Walker, Stand Up Folding Rollator Walker with 10” Front Wheels, Padded Armrests, Seat and Backrest
    1. Price: $299.99, sometimes on sale for $249.99
    2. Type of Walker: Upright
    3. Pros: Features storage room, a supportive seat, and large sturdy wheels that are easy to pivot. This type of walker is also great for improving posture and helping prevent joint or back pain.
    4. Cons: Significantly pricier than some of the other models and types of walkers on the market; this type of walker is definitely more of an investment. 
    5. Click here to view the Amazon listing

Conclusion

As we age, tasks that used to be simple (like walking to the mailbox) can feel like major challenges. Struggling to move without pain can be an upsetting experience, especially when it begins to interfere with independence.

Walkers are a great way to address these issues and put the power to move back in the hands of your senior. Walkers are relatively inexpensive but very effective ways to help keep us moving and smiling.


Sources:

  1. Walker Tips, Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org

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