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Choosing a mobility device: 3 points to consider

Author: Ken Stanfield
Published: Oct 7 2012

As a caregiver to an elderly person, there are many needs to provide for and products to consider, one of the foremost concerns being that of mobility. Does my loved one need a wheelchair? A walker? A rollator? A cane? With so many options and products out there, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what the right choice is for your loved one. It's important to consider your options carefully, since this will be a product that will be in use every day. Here are a few points you should look at in order to make the best possible choice.

Physical Abilities of Your Loved One

What are the needs of your loved one? First and foremost, you should consider the physical abilities of the person you are buying for. How steady is he or she? How much stability is needed? Walkers give the most stability, while canes are best for those who just need a little bit of steadying walking around and getting up from a sitting position. In order to have a wheeled walker, the user must be able to maneuver the wheels and use the brakes effectively.


How much will your loved one be moving around? On what kind of terrain? Consider your home: Is it spacious, with lots of room, or are there lots of small spaces that may make it difficult for your loved one to maneuver? In a smaller home a smaller, less bulky model might be best. There are three types of walkers that represent the spectrum of maneuverability:

- Basic walkers (those without wheels) are best for seniors who will be spending most of their time indoors on relatively even surfaces. These focus more on stability than maneuverability.

- Wheeled walkers give greater mobility outdoors while still offering excellent stability. They allow for a faster pace because they can be rolled rather than picked up with each step.

- Rollators (three- or four-wheeled walkers with brakes and a seat) give the greatest range of movement and maneuverability. For seniors who will be going out on a fairly regular basis, this may be the best choice. The seat makes it convenient for those who tire easily to rest, and many models come with baskets for carrying purses and other essentials.

Personal Preference

This point, while last, is certainly not least. Don't forget to carefully consider the opinion of your loved one who will be using the mobility device. This may sound simple, but it can sometimes seem easier as a caregiver to just make the decision yourself without consulting the senior who will have to use the device. Involve your loved one in the decision-making process, because he or she is the one, after all, who will have to live daily with this decision.

Though the process of deciding on a mobility device may be stressful, you can feel confident that if you invest the time and effort necessary to find the right device for your loved one, you will save yourself stress and inconvenience down the line and both you and your loved one will be happier all around.

Ken Stanfield is a writer and blogger who spends his time researching and writing about health care, geriatric healthcare needs, and humanitarianism. He writes for the medical walker experts,

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