How to Help Seniors Choose a New Walker or Mobility Aid
There are many seniors today who find themselves in need of a new mobility aid. As many seniors age, they often find they are unable to move as freely and as easily as they once did. Plus, issues such as injury, arthritis and other joint and muscle issues can make it even more challenging for seniors to walk and move as easily as they once did. For many seniors, when they reach this point in their lives, it is time to consider a new mobility aid, such as a walker. The right walker can help any senior get around not only in their homes but out in public.
While there is no denying that the right walker can go a long way in helping a senior maintain independence and get along on their own, finding the right walker can sometimes be a challenge. It is important that seniors are able to get fitted for the right walker as the right walker can go a long way in ensuring that the senior is able to be as mobile as possible as they transition to life with this new mobility aid. The good news is, there are several things that family members and loved ones can do in order to ensure the senior in their life is getting the care they need and the mobility assistance they deserve in order to live their life to the fullest.
Choosing the Right Type of Walker
Most seniors who have mobility challenges will start with a walker. This is a great mobility aid for those who have difficulties balancing or who are worried about falls. A walker cab be a great tool for seniors whether they need a temporary solution following an injury or surgery or a permanent aid once they find they are no longer able to get around on their own.
There are three basic types of walkers available for seniors. Those without wheels, those with two wheels and those with four wheels. A walker without wheels will require the senior to pick the piece up and move it on their own. While it does provide the most stability, it requires a senior who has the upper-body strength to move the walker on their own. No-wheel walkers are not as common as two to four wheel walkers, but they can be of assistance to certain seniors.
A two wheel walker is perhaps the most common of walkers. It allows the senior to place weight on the walker and get the stability they need while they move, without requiring the individual to pick up the walker on their own. The legs that have wheels on them allow the senior to push the walker forward and move quickly, while the two legs without wheels prevent the walker from rolling or moving too quickly when the senior is stepping forward.
A four wheel walker on the other hand, is great for those who need to move faster but who don’t need as much balance but need to move quicker when they are moving. Plus, many of these walkers have room for baskets and extra storage when they walk.
The right grip can go a long way in helping any senior with their mobility issues. Typically there are two main types of grips with standard walkers; foam grips or soft grips. The right grip depends on the individual. Typically, it is best to take the senior to figure out the grip in person. Soft covers are typically great if seniors tend to get sweaty. A larger grip is typically better if you have other joint pains or nerve problems in the fingers due to arthritis. Whatever the senior is most comfortable with is the best. The right grip will relieve unnecessary stress on the joints and help relieve joint pain or deformities. The best way to determine what the right grip is to make sure that the senior’s grip won’t slip while they are using their walker.
Helping Seniors Fit Their Walker
The right fit is essential for any senior who needs a walker to get around. When a walker is able to fit a senior’s arms comfortably, it will reduce stress on their shoulders an back. More and more seniors are struggling with posture issues, and the correct-fitting walker can reduce this type of stress. There are a few ways to make sure that a walker is the right height. Here is a guide to make sure that the walker fits correctly, you can do a few things:
Check their elbow bend. In order for a walker to fit correctly, seniors need to be able to keep their shoulders relaxed while still having a comfortable elbow bend, all while their hands are on their grips. The elbows should bend at an angle of about 15 degrees in order for the senior to stay as comfortable as possible. Wrist height is also important. When the senior is standing inside the walker, their arms should be relaxed at their sides, with the top of the walker lined up on the crease on the inside of their wrists. When seniors can enjoy this type of fit, they can rest assured that they will not only be able to use the walker correctly, but that it won’t have a negative impact on their hands, wrists, back or neck.
When the senior has finally found the right fitting walker, they will need to take a few practice steps in order to get used to using a walker. The senior needs to place most of their weight on the walker as they move. The key is to help them push the walker forward, take a step and keep their back upright. It can be tempting to lean over the walker and rely heavily on this support, but the straighter the senior can be, the better off they will be in getting used to using the walker. It can take some time in order for any senior to get used to walking with a walker, but over time many seniors will find the right walker can help them get around easily on their own.
- Lori Thomas has decades of experience as a caregiver. Her writing for SeniorAdvice.com is informed by years of research as well as hands-on family experience caring for her now late mother, who had chronic health issues for most of her life. Lori is an integral part of the SeniorAdvice.com management team, acting as Vice President of Marketing and Chief Editor.
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