Senior Walking Aids: What’s the Difference between a Rollator and a Walker?

Senior Walking Aids: What’s the Difference between a Rollator and a Walker?

generally easier to maneuver through tight spaces than traditional walkers, due to their wheeled legs. Three-wheeled rollators provide even greater maneuverability, with a single wheel in front and two in the back, making it smaller, more compact, and able to make tighter turns. This can be especially useful for individuals with mobility issues who live in homes with narrow hallways or tight corners.

  • Built-in seating:
    Many rollators come with a built-in seat, which can provide a convenient resting spot for individuals who tire easily, have joint pain, or need regular breaks. Additionally, some rollators may also have a backrest for added comfort and support. This feature can be particularly beneficial for seniors or those with chronic conditions that affect their mobility.

Rollator Walker Cons:

  • Not intended to bear weight: 
    Rollators are not designed to bear weight, so individuals who need to rely on a walker for support may find that a rollator is not suitable for their needs. This can be a problem for those with limited mobility, who need to lean on the walker to take the weight off their legs and help them move around. It is also important to note that leaning on a rollator can be a major safety hazard and can cause the walker to roll out from underneath the user.
  • Heavier than traditional walkers:
    Rollators tend to be heavier than traditional walkers, which can make them more difficult to lift and move. This can be an issue for individuals who need to frequently unload and load their walker into a vehicle, or for those who need to move their walker around on their own. While there are lightweight options available, they are still generally heavier than traditional walkers.

Highest Rated Rollators:

Consumer Affairs rates these as their best rollator walkers for 2023

Potential Advantages of a Standard Walker:

  • Lightweight: 
    Standard walkers are typically made of light, hollow aluminum tubes, making them easy to lift and move around.
  • Affordable:
    Walkers are generally less expensive than rollators, making them a more cost-effective option for those who need mobility aids.
  • Designed to bear weight:
    Walkers are designed to bear a portion of your weight, so you can lean on them as you move your feet forward.
  • Easy to store: 
    Walkers are compact and easy to store in small spaces, making them ideal for those who live in smaller homes or apartments.

Walker’s Potential Disadvantages:

  • Require lifting:
    Walkers require the user to slightly lift the walker off the ground, set it ahead of themselves, then step forward into the walker. Even with two wheels, the user must lift the rear legs and roll the walker forward before setting it back down again. For some people, the act of lifting the walker even that slight amount can be wearisome, if not nearly impossible.
  • Difficult on uneven surfaces:
    Because walkers require lifting, moving, and setting back down, they can be difficult to use on uneven ground. The non-wheeled legs may have a tendency to snag on obstacles or get stuck on dips or cracks in the ground, making them mainly intended for indoor use on flat, even surfaces.
  • Not ideal for tight spaces:
    Navigating in tight spaces can be difficult with a walker, especially when it comes to getting around corners. Walkers can be bulky, making it hard to maneuver through tight spaces.
READ:  Mobility Devices for Seniors

Highest Rated Walkers:

According to Assisted Living, these are the best walkers for seniors:

Walkers and rollators are both mobility aids designed to help individuals who need support while walking. Rollators offer the advantage of not requiring any lifting and being suitable for uneven surfaces. They are better for individuals who require assistance with balance rather than weight bearing. However, rollators are heavier than walkers and may not be suitable for individuals who frequently need to lift their mobility aid. Rollators also have a built-in seat and backrest, making them ideal for individuals who tire easily or require frequent rests.

When choosing between a walker and a rollator, it is important to consider the individual’s specific needs and abilities. Both walkers and rollators have their pros and cons, and the best option will depend on the individual’s mobility and strength.

One factor to consider that is often overlooked is the importance of finding a mobility aid that fits the individual’s height and weight properly. A walker or rollator that is too tall or too short can negatively impact posture and balance, making the mobility aid less effective. Ensure to measure and try out different options before making a purchase to find the best fit.

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