When seniors suddenly feel unsafe on their feet, and they fear falling and injuring themselves, they will know that the time has come for the need of extra support with their everyday activities.
They may have lost their confidence, due to perhaps muscle weakness, balance issues, and fatigue. Hip and knee surgery may cause seniors to struggle soon after their procedures, also stroke victims who have impaired mobility.
Many of these people have tried walking canes, but feel that it has not given them sufficient support. Walkers can be a good alternative for those who require extra assistance and support while walking.
In this article, we will cover the different types of walkers that are available and their particular benefits as well as important factors to consider before purchasing one. Finally, we will cover the best walkers currently on the market that can help to keep you on your feet and reduce the risk of falls.
Best Walkers for Seniors Comparison Chart
Here’s a handy reference list of our reviewed walkers. Further below is a more comprehensive comparison and review guide.
|Drive Medical 10200-1 Deluxe||DMI Folding Walker||Drive Medical 10240-1 Hemi Walker||Drive Medical 10226-1 Trigger Release Folding Walker||Carex FGA849C0 Stand Assist Walker||Drive 10220-1 Medical Bariatric Walker|
|Dimensions||16.5" (D) x 22" (W) x 32" (H)||17" (D) x 25" (W) x 32" (H)||16" (D) x 18.5" (W) x 28.5" (H)||16.75" (L) x 25" (W) x 32" (H)||19.5" (D) x 20" (W) x 30" (H)||20" (D) x 25.25" (W) x 32" (H)|
|Weight Capacity||350 lbs||250 lbs||300 lbs||350 lbs||250 lbs||500 lbs|
|Walker Weight||6 lbs||5.5 lbs||4 lbs||7 lbs||6 lbs||9 lbs|
|Height Adjustability||32" to 39"||32" to 38"||29.5" to 37"||32" to 39"||30" to 37"||32" to 39"|
|Frame||Aluminum||Aluminum with steel cross brace||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum with steel cross brace and legs|
|Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
What is a Walker/Walking Frame?
A walker also known as a walking frame, is a mobility aid that consists of a lightweight height-adjustable frame, usually constructed from alumium, that has 4 legs and which can come with or without two-front wheels.
A walker provides a user with extra support while walking, and is ideally suited for anyone with balance issues, or those suffering with a walking impairment, who may struggle to walk unaided.
To use a standard walker without wheels, the user holds onto the handgrips. In order to move forward, the user lifts the frame off the ground and is then placed down a few steps ahead of them, before they step towards it with one leg first followed by the other.
Handgrips on a walker can be constructed from moulded plastic or foam rubber. For increased comfort, choose a walker with contoured handgrips that will reduce the amount of pressure on the user’s hands.
Standard walkers have four rubber ferrules (feet) that are attached to the bottom of the legs to prevent it from slipping while the mobility aid is in use. Hybrid walkers, come with two front wheels and are better suited for anyone who may struggle to physically lift the frame as it requires less force to operate.
Who is a Walker Suitable For?
A walker is suitable for a number of users including those who:
- Suffer with balance issues who are unsteady on their feet but still have relatively good upper body strength.
- Those who find a walking cane does not provide them enough support while they’re on their feet.
- Suffer with joint pain or muscle weakness who may find it a struggle to walk unaided.
- Have suffered a fall or fear falling and require some extra support when walking.
- Those recovering from a recent operation such as a hip or knee replacement that require some extra assistance and support while on their feet.
- Those who have suffered a recent injury that affects their mobility.
Types of Walkers
Walkers can come in a range of styles to suit different user needs. Apart from standard walkers, other common types of walkers can include:
Hybrid Walker/Rolling Walker
A standard walker requires the user to have sufficient strength to lift the mobility aid off the ground with every step. If the user has limited upper body strength, this can often be a struggle. An alternative to a standard walker is a hybrid walker also known as a rolling walker.
A hybrid walker has two non-swivelling wheels in the front and two legs with rubber ferrules at the rear. It’s essentially a mixture between a rollator and a walker. One of the main benefits of a hybrid walker is it is easier to operate as it only requires the user to partially lift the walker.
To use this type of walker, the user needs to lift the rear legs an inch or so off the ground and the walker can then be slid forwards using the front wheels. In order to stop the walker, the user simply needs to place the two rear legs back on the ground again.
While a hybrid walker can be operated at a faster pace, it is slightly less stable than a standard walker. It is important therefore, that it is only used by users who are steady on their feet otherwise it may increase the risk of falls.
The standard diameter-size wheels on a hybrid walkers usually come in either 3″ or 5″ varieties. The smaller 3″ diameter size wheels are ideally suited for indoor use. While the 5″ wheels are generally more suited for outdoor use as it provides the walker with better maneuverability over more challenging and unstable terrain.
A hemi walker is a walker that can be operated with a single-hand instead of two. This type of walker is particularly suited for anyone with reduced dexterity in one arm or hand or for those suffering with partial paralysis on one side such as a stroke survivor.
A hemi walker resembles a mixture between a quad cane and a standard walker. It has an A-frame design that provides greater support over a quad-cane due to its wider base and it is also lighter than a standard walker making it more portable.
If you plan on using your walker outside and you need one that is easy to transport or you want to store your walker away when not in use, you will probably want to opt for a folding walker that folds flat with just a touch of a button.
Not only are foldable walkers easy to transport and store, they also allow you to more easily maneuverer your walker through tight spaces such as a narrow doorway.
Standard, hemi and hybrid walkers can come in foldable versions.
Stand Assist/Riser Walker
A stand assist walker or also known as a riser walker, is a 3-in-1 walker providing the user with a stand aid, a walking aid as well as a handy bathroom aid. It is particularly suited for users with reduced lower strength who may struggle raising from a seated to a standing position.
The stand assist walker has two pairs of handgrips that are positioned at different heights. The lower handgrips can be used by a user to help leverage themselves independently from a seated to a standing position. The upper handgrips can be used just like a standard walker to help support the user while walking. It can also be used as a toilet support frame to help a user safely transition to and from the toilet.
What is the Difference Between a Rollator and a Walker?
While a walker and a rollator are both walking aids, there are some subtle differences between each mobility aid and their intended uses.
Rollators have 3 or 4 legs with swivelling wheels at the end of each leg and are fitted with brakes. Unlike a walker which needs to be lifted with each step by the user, a rollator can simply be pushed along the ground requiring less effort to operate and providing more manoeuvrability. Some rollators are fitted with seats that allow the user to take regular rests when required.
Walkers are designed to support a user’s partial weight and assist with balancing so they are ideally suited for anyone who is unsteady on their feet. Rollators on the other hand, are better suited for anyone with reduced upper body strength who may struggle lifting a walker but requires some additional assistance with walking and is relatively steady on their feet.
Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Walker
Choosing the right walker will depend on your particular needs. There are a wide range of factors that one should consider before purchasing a walker. Some important factors to consider include:
The weight of a walker should be light enough so that it can easily be lifted without struggling or tiring easily.
If you have limited upper body strength, consider opting for a carbon fibre walker, these are generally lighter than aluminum frames and should be easier to lift.
If you have good balance, and you’re relatively stable on your feet, consider choosing a hybrid walker that has two-front wheels. These require less effort to use as it only requires partially lifting off the ground and it can be slid forwards using the front wheels.
Ease of Portability
Choosing a foldable walker is important if you regularly need to transport it when you’re out and about. Foldable walkers can fold easily with a touch of a button and fit in the trunk of a car or they can be stored away in a compact space when not in use.
If you suffer with reduced finger dexterity, verify how easy the closing mechanism on the walker is to operate. Trigger release folding mechanisms are generally easier than a press-button release as they require less effort to operate.
While a wider framed walker may provide better support to the user, it is important to remember that you will need to ensure that it will fit through any narrow doorways especially if you plan on using it indoors.
Walker frames generally range anywhere from 22″ up to 26″ in width. While most standard interior doors are in the 28″ to 32″ width range, some doorways can be as narrow as 24″ so always check that it is suitable for any narrow spaces.
If you need to use a walker in restrictive spaces, choose a foldable one. These types of walkers can usually be narrowed with a touch of a button so that they can more easily fit through narrow doorways or hallways.
Walker Weight Capacity
Exceeding the weight capacity of your walker can be dangerous. It is vital therefore that you choose a walker that can safely support your weight.
Walkers generally can support weights up to 300 pounds. For heavier users, bariatric walkers are available that are designed to support weights up to 500 pounds.
Wheel Diameter Size
If you’re considering a hybrid walker, you should pay particular attention to the diameter size of the wheels.
If you plan on using a hybrid walker indoors, 3″ diameter sized wheels should be sufficient for most needs. If you plan on using your hybrid walker outside, choose one that has bigger sized wheels, ideally at least 5″ diameter sized wheels as these will help with maneuverability over unstable surfaces.
Top Walkers Reviews
Dimensions: 16.5" (D) x 22" (W) x 32" (H)
Weight capacity: 350 lbs
Weight: 6 lbs
Height adjustability: 32" to 39"
The Drive Medical 10200-1 Deluxe is a reasonably priced standard walker. It is ideally suited for anyone who is unsteady on their feet and prefers a more stable standard walker which is easier to handle over a hybrid walker with wheels.
The walker weights 6 lbs so it is relatively lightweight and shouldn’t prove too heavy to lift. Despite it being 22 inches in width, the U-shaped frame design provides the user with ample room to operate the walker.
The height can be extended from 32 to 39 inches in one inch increments and it has a weight capacity of 350 lbs which should be suitable for most needs.
If you need to store your walker when not in use, the walker can be folded using the easy to use push-button mechanism that can be operated by users with even limited dexterity.
Dimensions: 17" (D) x 25" (W) x 32" (H)
Foldable: Folds to a compact 4"
Weight capacity: 250 lbs
Weight: Weighs just 5.5 lbs
Height adjustability: 32" to 38"
Frame: Aluminum with steel cross brace
The DMI folding walker is the lightest of all walkers that we have reviewed. It weighs just 5.5 lbs making it easy to lift and maneuver both indoors and outdoors.
The walker folds down to a compact 4 inches so you can easily store it away when not in use and it will also conveniently fit into the trunk of a car without any struggle. The folding mechanism is relatively easy to operate, you simply need to press down the two buttons. The buttons are large enough so it shouldn’t prove too challenging to operate even for users with limited dexterity.
This hybrid walker is fitted with two-front 5-inch wheels. The larger wheels provide good maneuverability over rougher terrain so you won’t need to worry about taking it outdoors with you.
The wider base as well as the steel crossbrace structure provides the user with good stability and will assist in keeping the user well balanced while they’re on their feet. If you plan on using your walker in confined spaces, the wheels can be fitted on the inside saving you some valuable few inches allowing you to easily maneuver it through tighter doorways.
The soft molded foam handgrips makes the walker comfortable to operate which helps to reduce the risk of pressure-related hand injuries.
Dimensions: 16" (D) x 18.5" (W) x 28.5" (H)
Foldable: Folds easily with one hand
Weight capacity: 300 lbs
Weight: 4 lbs
Height adjustability: 29.5" to 37"
The hemi walker from Drive Medical is a good choice if you’re looking for a walking aid that provides better support than a regular walking cane but you don’t necessarily want to use a standard walker as you’re worried it may slow you down too much.
This walker can prove beneficial for anyone who have suffered a stroke, and may have partial paralysis in one side of their body and have lost sensitivity in their upper body, or for anyone who is recovering from a recent knee or hip replacement who requires that extra support.
The walker is sturdy but lightweight, it only weighs 4 lbs but it has a good weight capacity of 300 lbs so it should be suitable for most users.
It also foldable, conveniently folding with just one arm or hand so it can easily be transported. The walker adjusts from a height of 29.5″ to 37″ which means it should be suitable for most heights, even for taller users.
Dimensions: 16.75" (L) x 25" (W) x 32" (H)
Weight capacity: 350 lbs
Weight: 7 lbs
Height adjustability: 32" to 39"
The Drive Medical hybrid walker is a good option to go for if you’re looking for a walker that won’t slow you down too much, but will provide you with enough support while walking.
It is fitted with 5″ wheels making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Whether you’re pushing your walker along a carpeted floor at home, or you’re going over an uneven concrete floor in your local park, you will be able to easily maneuver it over all types of surfaces.
What sets it apart from other walkers is the folding mechanism. The quick-release trigger handle can be easily operated even for users with reduced dexterity. Operating the handle can be done without the user even needing to remove their hands off the handgrips.
The height on the walker is adjustable from 32″ to 39″ and has a weight capacity of up to 350 lbs. The handgrips are soft-ribbed contoured which helps to relieve pressure on the user’s hands and with it only weighing 7 lbs, it can easily be lifted in and out of a car without too much trouble.
Dimensions: 19.5" (D) x 20" (W) x 30" (H)
Weight capacity: 250 lbs
Weight: 6 lbs
Height adjustability: 30" to 37"
The Carex stand assist walker is a perfect choice for anyone that may struggle to stand from a seated position and also suffers with balance issues while walking.
The lower set of grips on the Carex walker assists the user in rising from a seated to a standing position. The higher grips can be used just like a normal walker providing the user with increased stability while walking.
The walker is lightweight, weighing just 6 lbs and it is also foldable so it can easily be transported with you wherever you go. The single-button folding mechanism is simple to operate allowing it to be operated with just a single hand.
The frame is adjustable in one-inch increments and adjusts from 30″ to 37″.
The stylish walker comes in a matte silver finish, with a dark blue crossbar, which is a welcome change from the more traditional looking walkers on the market. It also features rubber hand grips that are non-slip. These help to improve safety and reduces the risk of the user’s hand from slipping off.
Dimensions: 20" (D) x 25.25" (W) x 32" (H)
Weight capacity: 500 lbs
Weight: 9 lbs
Height adjustability: 32" to 39"
Frame: Aluminum with steel cross brace and legs
The Drive Medical heavy-duty bariatric walker has an impressive weight capacity of 500 lbs making it suitable for heavier users.
The walker is sturdy, the frame is constructed from lightweight aluminum and the side brace and legs are made from durable steel providing it with additional strength. Despite it being extremely sturdy, it weighs just 9 lbs.
The wider and deeper frame allows for the walker to be comfortably operated by larger individuals. When navigating through narrow doorways, each side can be operated independently from one another so that it can more easily fit through tighter spaces around the home. It has comfortable vinyl-contoured handgrips that provide the user with enhanced comfort.
The bariatric walker is also foldable, it uses an easy push-button mechanism which can be operated by a user’s fingers, palm or by the side of a hand. The walker adjusts from 32″ to 39″ making it suitable for most heights.
There are a wide range of different accessories that can help to improve the functionality of your walker. Some useful accessories that you may want to consider for your walker include:
Users may often find that they struggle to maneuver their walker over uneven surfaces, as well as indoor surfaces, such as carpeted and wooden floors.
Walker glides fit on the tips of the walker and they are designed to make it easier for the walker to glide more smoothly over surfaces, helping to reduce friction.
They are particularly suited for anyone with impaired upper mobility as they eliminate the need to lift the walker with every step. Instead, the user can simply push the walker more easily along the ground.
There are a range of different types of walker glides which include:
Ski glides as the name suggests, are shaped like short skis with a curved end. They help to reduce the amount of friction as the walker is pushed along the ground. They are usually constructed from durable rubber or plastic. They are lightweight and do not add any extra weight to a walker.
To fit ski glides on your walker, you simply need to remove the existing rubber ferrules from the walker. Next slide the ski glides into the end of the tubbing and use a Philips head screwdriver to tighten the screw to hold it in place.
They are usually considered safer than tennis ball slides (see below) as they offer better stability.
The following ski glides from Vive are compatible with most types of walkers that have a post diameter of between 1″ – 1 1/8″. They also come with a pair of velour glide covers for indoor use which offers added protection against scratches and snags and helps to dampen any noise when the walker is being used on wooden or concrete floors.
An alternative to ski glides are glide caps. They are also constructed from durable rubber or plastic.
They are simple to install and helps the walker slide more smoothly over indoor and outdoor surfaces making it easier and faster for the user to operate.
Tennis Ball Glides
Tennis ball glides are also another alternative to plastic or rubber glides. They are usually pre-cut so the legs of the walker can simply be slotted into each ball.
The use of tennis balls can help to protect against scratches on indoor surfaces and it can help to reduce the amount of noise as the walker slides over harder surfaces.
It is recommended that tennis ball glides are not used by users with relatively poor balance as they offer less stability than traditional ski or cap glides.
Trays or caddies that fit onto a walker can be particularly useful for anyone that solely relies on their mobility aid around the home. They can be used to easily transport food and beverages to and from the kitchen allowing the user to keep both hands safely on their walker.
The following walker tray from Nova is made from plastic which is both durable and easy to clean. It has two different sized cup-holders which can help to reduce any spills. There is a lip around the perimeter of the tray which helps to prevent any items from slipping off it.
The tray is designed to fit walkers that have a frame width measuring 18″ inches. The tray secures to the walker easily without requiring any special tools. When not in use, the tray can be conveniently folded away.
Walker Bag/Storage Basket
Keep all your essential items handy by fitting a walker bag or storage basket to your walker. They are ideal to keep important belongings with you at all times such as medicines, glasses, phone, money, keys, books etc so you don’t have to keep getting up to fetch items throughout the day.
The following bag from OasisSpace attaches easily to the front of a walker. It is large enough to fit most of your essentials. It is constructed from nylon which is both durable and water resistant. It also has 4 outer pockets in the front where you can keep important essentials so they are always within easy reach.
Cane Holder for Walker
A useful accessory you may want to consider if you also rely on a walking cane for assistance, is a walking cane holder. It attaches to your walker and holds your cane for you so that it is always within easy reach whenever you may require it.
The following cane holder snaps onto your walker easily without requiring any special tools and it is designed to hold most diameter cane sizes.
Platform Attachment for Walker
Fitting a platform attachment to a walker can prove beneficial for anyone with impaired hand dexterity or those who have reduced upper body strength, who may struggle gripping standard handgrips on a walker.
The platform attachment attaches to the side of a walker. It allows the user to rest their forearm on the padded armrest helping them to more easily manoeuvre the walker while reducing the strain on their hands and arms.
If you’re finding that your standard handgrips on your walker are proving uncomfortable, consider fitting some grips that provide enhanced comfort.
There are a wide range of different handgrips made from different materials including foam, wool, neoprene and gel. They are designed to offer better cushioning, helping to distribute pressure more evenly and reducing the risk of pressure related injuries on the hands.
The following handgrips from Vive are constructed from contoured foam padding which are extremely comfortable and help to reduce the risk of any soreness. They attach quickly to the handlebars and they are designed to fit all types of walkers with the simple to use Velcro fasteners.
FAQs About Walkers
Ensuring that a walker is set at the correct height is not only important for the user’s comfort but also for their safety.
If a walker’s height is positioned incorrectly, it will force the user to adopt a poor posture which can prove uncomfortable and may cause them to lose their balance leading to a fall.
To ensure the walker is set to the correct height for a particular user, follow these steps:
Step 1: Get the user to wear their regular footwear and get them to stand upright with their arms by their side with their wrists slightly flexed.
Step 2: Measure the vertical distance from the floor up to the crease in the inside of the user’s wrists.
Step 3: Adjust the height of the walker’s frame to the measurement taken in step 2. If the height has been set correctly, the handgrips should come up to the same height as the bend in the user’s wrists.