There are many fantastic things about growing older. We learn patience and wisdom. And often an appreciation for the little things in life that we overlooked when younger. But one thing that does not improve with age is our MOBILITY.
No matter what mobility challenges you have, you can find the right type of walking assistive device. A mobility device that will allow you to enjoy life to the fullest.
1. Walking Sticks and Canes: Are They the Same?
Walking sticks and canes have some similarities, but they serve totally different purposes.
Walking sticks are used for balance when walking for a short time. For example, HIKING in rocky terrain or on slippery surfaces.
Using a walking stick for balance or mobility support permanently is not good. They cannot safely support body weight.
A walking cane is a medical device built for people with temporary or permanent balance or mobility concerns.
The purpose of a cane is to support mobility comfortably, and the best canes do this very well.
You LEAN to a cane to remove some load from the lower body. For that, you need a functional, supportive grip.
Depending on your condition (and upper body strength), there are different grips to choose from.
Canes are probably the most common walking aid for seniors.
2. Crutches for Support After the Injury
Crutches are typically used after an injury. An injured leg should not be put under weight so that the injury can HEAL.
Crutches are a temporary solution. The goal is to return to normal mobility as soon as possible.
Like canes, crutches take the weight off the leg. Elderly people usually use crutches in pairs.
Crutches are generally quite CUMBERSOME and challenging to maneuver.
Related: How Much Do Crutches Cost?
3. Knee Scooter Helps to Move After Injury.
Knee scooters have wheels, a knee rest, and a steering handlebar.
By resting your injured foot on a padded knee rest, you can relieve some of the pressure on your leg.
Similar to crutches, knee walkers are usually used after injury. They are typically used for broken ankles, knee injuries, or injured feet.
Knee scooters do not require arm strength like crutches. Older people or those with upper-body limitations may benefit from this.
And due to durability and design, these mobility devices can hold a lot of weight.
4. The Big, Wide World of Walkers
Recent years have seen an explosion of innovation in this space.
The primary two or four-wheel classic will be fine for most people. Newer models provide an excellent fit for all mobility levels.
Walkers work well when you need more support than canes can provide.
The standard walker is a simple metal frame with four legs and no wheels. You move the walker by lifting it with each step.
This type of walker provides constant weight-bearing support.
It is an excellent device for those with balance problems or a significant danger of falling.
Two, Three, or Four Wheels?
Suppose you don’t need that constant weight-bearing support of the no-wheel model?
Then two or four-wheeled walker is an excellent choice if you require a walking aid.
The two and four-wheeled models provide confidence and self-assurance while increasing mobility. But maneuvering them in tight spots can be challenging.
Three-wheeled walkers offer an alternative. Three-wheeled models are lighter and a better fit for small spaces.
They provide a similar level of support to a four-wheel walker (often referred to as a ROLLATOR).
5. Four-Wheel Walker – a Rollator
A four-wheeled walker is commonly called a rollator. They usually have a seat and a shopping basket in addition to the handlebars.
They are ideal for outdoor activities such as walking and shopping. Walking with them is natural, and users can rest when needed.
Rollators are great mobility devices for seniors for daily use.
You can walk at your average pace with a rollator, which isn’t always the case with a walker.
If you lean or push against the frame for support, it may run away if you don’t apply the brake.
In small indoor spaces, the size of a rollator can be an issue.
6. The Upright Walker
Upright walkers offer an edge over the other walking aids for the elderly that we’ve discussed so far.
The advantage of upright walkers over rollators is that they allow the user to stand tall.
Traditional walkers have a stooped or bent forward posture when used. These standing walkers fix that.
Standing walkers keep the user’s line of sight straight ahead instead of at a downward angle. This change increases confidence and stability.
However, while many people do well with this type of walker, it may not provide enough steadiness for those with balance issues.
7. Smart Walkers With New Technology
The smart walker could soon be making its way to a location near you!
As the elderly population increases rapidly, we will see many new developments with walking assistance for seniors.
Scientists are working on new types of assistive walking devices. They will make using a walker easier for some of the most vulnerable users.
Standard walkers require hand strength and muscle control that some users may not possess.
Smart walkers might have sensors to assist with navigation and detect obstacles. They can be adjusted depending on user behavior.
They might provide the power to the wheels on slopes and break automatically when going downhill.
Smart walker increases safety and encourages a more active lifestyle in the elderly with limited mobility.
8. Finding the Right Wheelchair
Selecting a suitable wheelchair to meet your needs can seem overwhelming.
If you cannot walk for more than a few steps without assistance, you may need to look for a wheelchair.
The appropriate wheelchair for you will be the chair that meets your specific mobility needs.
Wheelchairs today offer MANY options: standard, lightweight, ultra-lightweight, manual, electric, and heavy-duty. The choice depends on the limitations of the user.
Your doctor is aware of your complete medical history and knows about the different kinds of chairs available. They are an expert authority to consult in this area.
Standard manual wheelchairs have large back wheels that enable users to propel themselves or be pushed by someone else.
These chairs’ relatively lightweight and versatility are two significant reasons for their popularity.
You can expect a manual wheelchair to last around five years with regular everyday use. Still, it’s essential to complete routine maintenance on the chair to ensure it’s safe to ride.
Also, never ride an indoor-only wheelchair outside; this will substantially lower its lifespan.
A Transport Chair
Transport chairs are wheelchairs with smaller wheels on the back of the chair and need another individual to operate.
These chairs are lightweight, easy to maneuver, and break down quickly for easy storage.
Transport chairs are great for temporary situations where a more substantial chair can be impractical.
9. Power Wheelchairs
Power wheelchairs are excellent for users who need mobility assistance but have restricted use of their hands.
Power wheelchairs are also versatile. Depending on specific modifications, the user uses either their feet, mouth, or eyes to control the chair.
Power wheelchairs are also the most EXPENSIVE. Price range is from $1,000 to over $18,000. The cost of an electric wheelchair DEPENDS on the modifications and specific needs of a chair.
Wheelchairs of any kind can be pretty expensive when you live on a tight budget! Fortunately, some organizations are taking action. To help seniors and the disabled live an active life, they provide free or reduced-cost wheelchairs.
10. Mobility Scooters
Like canes and walking sticks, power wheelchairs and mobility scooters are not all the same.
They have varying levels of versatility. However, they accomplish many of the same tasks as an elderly mobility aid.
Mobility scooters are for seniors who control their hands and do not have balance problems.
They are also larger than power wheelchairs and need specialized equipment for transporting.
A mobility scooter can cost anywhere between a few hundred and several thousand dollars.
However, there is a way to get a mobility scooter from Medicare and other government organizations or individual programs.
Dealing with a balance problem or mobility issue can be frustrating.
Having to cut back on your social life or seeing loved ones should never have to be an option.
If you’re worried about recent changes in your mobility, contact your doctor. Address your concerns and choose the best walking aid for elderly individuals.