Posted 2/2/2020 3:42 AM (GMT -6)
I have more chronic issues than I really want to think about. Among them are 2 bad knees and a bad back. I've been researching rolling walkers for several years. I wasn't in a hurry, partly from not wanting to give into my body ills, and partly because I put off needing one for a while, by buying 2 offset handle quad canes a few years ago. Now they aren't enough, so my research into rolling walkers has finally paid off. There are a lot of companies making rolling walkers, and a lot of different models. No 2 people are exactly the same, so having a choice among models is a big help. Here are the main things you need to consider when picking out a rolling walker.
> What is the weight limit of the walker?
> Is the walker made of aluminum or steel? Steel weighs more, but is stronger, so if you weigh a lot, it may be a better choice.
> How much does the walker weigh? You or a relative will sometimes have to lift it into and out of cars, and up and down the stairs, so don't buy one too heavy for you or a relative to lift.
> What is the overall width of the walker, and what is the width of your narrowest doorway at home? If the walker is too wide but is the right width for you, just fold the walker to get it thru the narrower doorways, and then unfold it again.
> What is the size of the wheels? The most common sizes are 6 & 8 inches in diameter. Eight is better for outside use.
> Are the wheels all plastic, or covered with rubber? Rubber is better.
Does the walker come with an under-seat wire basket, or a pouch, or neither? They usually have one or the other. It's not often that they don't have anything under the seat.
> What is the height range of the handles? Most rolling walkers have handles that can have their height adjusted, usually in 1-inch increments, but different models have different ranges, so you need to get a walker that can be adjusted within your range.
> What is the distance between the handles? The seat itself is shorter across than the space between the handles, so you actually have a little more room than the seat width, but it helps to know just how much, especially if your nether regions are on the wide side, so the distance between the handles measurement is the critical one of those two measurements. If you are on the wide side, find a chair in your home that is wide enough across for you, without being too wide, and measure the distance between the inside of the armrests. Any walker width within about an inch of that should work for you.
> What is the floor to top of the seat measurement? If you are tall, a shorter seat to floor measurement won't work for you. If you are short, a higher seat will leave you with your feet hanging uncomfortably in the air. Find a chair in your home that has a comfortable seat to floor height and measure it. Anything within an inch of that height should work for you.
> Almost all rolling walkers are now designed to be shipped almost completely assembled, and then to be easily finished off at your home, usually without the need of tools. If you feel that even a slight amount of assembly work is too much for you, and don't have someone to help you, you can buy an already assembled one right off the floor at a medical supply store.
There are a few rolling walkers out there now that not only have adjustable height handles, but also have adjustable seat heights, but you will generally pay more for such a feature, so first try to find a walker that will meet your needs without the adjustable seat height feature.
Besides the above list of requirements, here are a few more things to consider when buying a rolling walker.
> Does it fold front-to-back, or side-to-side. Most American models fold front-to-back, but the "Euro" style side-to-side models are becoming more popular. However, the euro-style walkers usually have a flimsy fabric backrest, instead of the sturdy, padded back bar found on most front-to-back folding walkers.
> The euro-style walkers also almost always have a thin fabric seat, instead of the sturdy padded seat found on most American models.
Accessories are something else you need to consider when buying a walker. The under-seat basket or pouch comes with the walker, but other accessories usually cost extra, but still might be a good idea, as they can be helpful. Among those to consider are:
> A tote bag designed to hook to the back bar or side of the walker. Some of them are even insulated and/or have a plastic lining in the main compartment for carrying food.
> A tray to put on the seat for carting food and other things around.
> A cup holder. Most of these will also hold a water bottle.
> A clip-on flashlight. You can probably do better price-wise, getting an LED headlamp flashlight, and attaching that to the walker.
> A cane and cane clip. There may be times when you may want to step away from the walker, but will still need support, so bringing along even one cane will be a help.
> If you might be out with your walker at night or in dim light, buy some reflective tape to put on it, so cars can see you better.
Because there are so many variables in picking a rolling walker, your medical providers really can't pick a specific model for you, but if you arm yourself with the measurements I listed above, and go to a medical supply place that carries a lot of rolling walkers, they should be able to help you find the best model for your needs. If you don't like their prices, surf the web for a better deal on the same model.
Unfortunately, I did need to get a non-standard walker. I am short but wide, so I had to pay more for one of the few short, but wide models of rolling walker. I didn't want a flimsy backrest or a flimsy thin fabric seat, so I went with a front-to-back folding model, the Nova Mini Mac, with a proper backrest bar, and a proper flip-up seat. Fortunately, the model I picked is made of aluminum, so it weighs less than 19 pounds. Heavy-duty models usually weigh at least 20 pounds.
The 2 canes I've been getting around with for the past few years are heavy-duty steel canes, and even one would add too much weight when clipped to the walker, so I will be buying one aluminum offset handle quad cane, for when I sometimes have to step away from the walker. The 2 old canes are going to become bathroom servants. I have an office cart slightly in the way of the bathroom door. The cart needs to stay where it is, and I can get through the narrow opening okay with my canes, but my new, wide rolling walker won't be able to fit thru unless I fold it and turn it sideways. It will be simpler to just park it near the bathroom door, and then use my old canes to get in/out and maneuver in the bathroom. The other doorways in my home are fine, as I live in a handicapped-accessible apartment, so the doorways have to be wider. Anyway, I am looking forward to the arrival of my new walker, and will decide what, if any, accessories to buy once I try it out.
I realize I put a lot of info in this reply post, but over the past few years, as I've been researching rolling walkers, I found over and over again that web sites listing them for sale all to often left out some important info. At least, by my listing the key types of rolling walker info you need to know, you will be better able to find it. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the sales people at medical supply places, or to email or call the companies that make the models you might be interested in. I've done all three, and now I'm awaiting the arrival of my new set of wheels.
I hope that the fruit of my research that I posted here will be a help to you and to anyone else who reads it all.