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Shopping guide for the best walkers

Posted by Alexis Lagden on

Sometimes people need a bit of help getting around, and a walker offers that in the most literal of ways. A walker offers support and protection against falls and other injuries. It doesn’t guarantee safety, of course, but it significantly reduces the chance of a catastrophe. And the great thing about a walker is that you retain your independence while using one.

The market offers a slew of different walker models. As such, the challenge of finding the right one can feel overwhelming. At Staywell Home Care Medical Supplies, we’re here to help!

If you're ready to make a purchase, please contact us and we can help you decide. If you’d like to learn more about walkers and how to select the right one for your needs, please read on.

Walker types

Let's start with the basics. Below, you can read about the pros and cons of the main walker types:

Standard walker

A standard walker has four legs and no wheels, so the user must lift it and move it forward every couple of steps.

Pros

  • Standard walkers offer the most stability. They’re ideal for most people who need a walker due to injury.
  • These walkers are exceptionally lightweight, as they tend to be “no-frills” items without seats or other extras.
  • As a rule, standard walkers are the cheapest walkers. A standard walker is perfect if you’re watching your budget or plan to use the walker only occasionally.

Cons

  • Because the user must lift a standard walker between steps, it’s not suitable for people with little upper body strength. It’s also not great for those who might lose their balance if they’re momentarily unsupported.
  • Standard walkers generally don't come with the handy extras (baskets, seats, and so on) that many folks like to have.
  • Standard walkers don't perform well on unseen surfaces.

Two-wheeled walker

Two-wheeled walkers strike a happy medium between standard walkers and four-wheeled walkers. They feature two wheels on the front and two wheel-less legs on the back.

Pros

  • While two-wheeled walkers don't offer quite as much stability as standard walkers, they're more stable than four-wheeled walkers.
  • Two-wheeled walkers don't require the user to lift all four legs off the ground in order to take a step. As such, they’re great for people with balance issues.
  • Most two-wheeled walkers are just as lightweight as standard walkers.
     

Cons

  • Two-wheeled walkers aren't very maneuverable, as the wheels don't swivel.
  • Many two-wheeled walkers don't include seats or baskets.

Four-wheeled walker

Four-wheeled walkers are generally the best choice for people who get around well but need a little help with balance and stability.

Pros

  • Four-wheeled walkers are much more maneuverable than other varieties. They also perform better on rough ground than some other models.
  • The majority of four-wheeled walkers include extras such as seats and baskets. People who want to take solo excursions — but might need to take an occasional rest while out — appreciate this type of walker.
  • Four-wheeled walkers come with brakes, so you can put more weight on them when you need to.
  • Most four-wheeled walkers fold down to a smaller size. As such, they’re easily stored in a closet or vehicle. 

Cons

  • Four-wheeled walkers are heavier than other varieties.
  • Four-wheeled walkers often cost significantly more than standard and two-wheeled types.
  • Considerations
  • Brakes
  • Standard and two-wheeled walkers don't need brakes, as the wheel-less legs provide ample stability.
  • Four-wheeled walkers, on the other hand, require brakes for stability. In addition, the brakes prevent the walker from rolling away when the user travels downhill.
  • Basket
  • Many people find that a walker helps them gain or maintain independence. For instance, a handicapped person might be able to visit the grocery store alone with a walker in tow. A basket proves invaluable in a case like this, as groceries and other items can be stored inside it. Some walkers have the option of a soft or wire basket for heavier items such as a small oxygen tank.
  • That said, a person who intends to use the walker primarily at home might not need or want a basket.
  • Seat
  • Some walkers have seats. This feature allows the user to stop and catch his/her breath as needed.
  • Most of the time, it's only four-wheeled walkers that have seats.
  • If you shop around, however, you may be able to find a standard or two-wheeled walker with a seat.
  •  Walker weight
  • The weight of your walker matters if it’s a standard model, as you must be able to fully lift it off the ground. If you're buying a standard walker, make sure it's not too heavy for you to lift.
  • Weight matters slightly less if you have a wheeled walker, but you still might want to be able to lift it up your front step or into the trunk of a car.
  • Weight limit
  • Weight limit refers to the amount of weight that the walker is designed to support. The majority of walkers tend to have a weight limit somewhere in range of 250 to 300 pounds. If your weight exceeds this, you may need to look for a bariatric walker designed for heavier people.
  • Height
  • Most walkers allow you to adjust for your height. After all, you don't want to have to stoop over your walker. We advise against buying any walker that’s not adjustable for height.
  • Foldability
  • Some walkers fold and others don't.
  • As a potential buyer, you must decide if having a foldable walker is important to you.
  • If you plan to store your walker in a small space or take it in the car for family trips, we recommend a product that folds down to a smaller size. 
  • Price
  • Considering the positive difference, a good walker can make in your life, they aren't exceptionally expensive items and will last you several years. If you have private insurance or government benefits they may help with the purchase of a walker.
  • A standard walker will set you back somewhere between $100 and $150. Those on the higher end of the pricing spectrum tend to have a sturdier build.
  • Two-wheeled walkers are just a hair pricier than standard walkers. The cost of a two-wheeled model averages between $100 and $150.
  • Four-wheeled walkers are the most expensive models out there, but they tend to offer more sophisticated features, including brakes, baskets, and seats. This type of walker costs anywhere from $250 to $500 and up.

 

  • FAQ
  • Q. How can I tell if my walker is at the right height?
  • A. When using your walker, your back should be as straight as possible. Don’t lean over the unit, as this could cause back pain. Your elbows should bend slightly.
  • Q. Does wheel size make a difference?
  • A. Walkers with larger wheels fare better on rough ground. If you’ll be traveling "off-road," we suggest a walker with a larger wheel diameter.
  • Q. Can I get extra accessories for my walker?
  • A. Some walkers are quite “bare bones” with no basket or other extras to speak of or available to add. But you could always buy accessories to make others more useful. Common walker accessories include baskets, food trays, and cup holders.

 DID YOU KNOW?

Some walkers are harder to fold than others. It's a good idea to find out all you can about how easy/hard a walker is to fold before you buy it so you know whether or not you can manage to do it yourself without help.

DID YOU KNOW?

Four-wheeled walkers are better suited for folks who need a small amount of help with balance. But if you need to put your full weight on the walker with every step, a four-wheeled walker poses the risk of sliding away.

DID YOU KNOW?

Four-wheeled walkers come with hand brakes. The brakes can be locked in place when the user is sitting in the seat. However, people with grip issues may find the hand brakes on a four-wheeled walker difficult to manipulate.

DID YOU KNOW?

Standard and two-wheeled walkers are lighter than their four-wheeled counterparts. Of course, potential buyers should always check the manufacturer's specifications to find the exact weight of a particular walker.

 

 

If you need more information, please contact

STAYWELL HOME CARE MEDICAL SUPPLIES

at 403 874-8787 or

staywellmedicalsupplies@gmail.com

and we would be happy to answer any of your questions.

 


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