Thank you to our friends at Aged Care & Medical for allowing us to re-post their recent article on helpful hints when buying a mobility walker.
Choosing a lightweight wheeled walker can sometimes be a daunting process. How do you really know that you have selected the right lightweight wheelie walker for you? When you are buying for a friend or relative deciding on what will best suit your loved one, this can be even more complex as you are deciding on a product that can really influence their life. Often it is key to their ability to get out and about and be self-sufficient.
In our Living Stronger series, we recently chatted to Aged Care & Medical’s resident live chat and customer care guru, Louise, on some of the tips she recommends to our customers when deciding on a mobility walker. Here are Louise’s top ten things to consider when choosing a lightweight wheelie walker. Enjoy!
Lightweight wheeled walkers – what is considered to be lightweight?
A wheelie walker is an item you are likely to take everywhere – in and out of the car; up and down steps and curbs, and storing in and around the house. You need a wheeled walker that is easy to lift and easy to manoeuvre. However what is considered to be lightweight?
Lightweight walkers are typically made from aluminium or carbon fibre. Carbon fibre wheelie walkers are the lighter of the two materials and can be as light as 4kg. Aluminium tends to be slightly heavier, but are still considered lightweight in comparison to the more traditional steel options. Compared to a Carbon fibre wheeled walker, an aluminium lightweight wheeled walkers are approximately 7kg. One thing to note though, typically the lighter the walker, the more expensive it is. Carbon Fibre is an expensive raw material, and as such carbon fibre wheelie walkers are typically around the $650 mark, whereas a good quality aluminium walker is approximately $300 – $350 price point.
Choose a walker that promotes good posture and your natural stance
Ask any occupational therapist, and they will tell you the importance of posture and correct movement. Especially as we age. Continuous innovations by wheeled walkers and rollator manufacturers have included easy to adjust handle heights, tighter turning circles and cross bar frames. These innovations have made it easier to walk in an upright position – your natural stance. A good mobility walker will assist with good walking posture.
A good tip to determine what the correct height for the handles, is to measure from the middle of your palm to the floor. This height should be the height you adjust your handles to (and how you determine whether a wheeled walker rollator will be the right height for you) Note: most of the modern lightweight walkers have a handle height maximum and minimum range.
Understand the other features included in the mobility walker (and/or omitted) and compare to your needs?
There are lots of wheeled walkers on the market. Many with different features and adaptations. Basket size, position and storage capacity is a common consideration. Some of the traditional four wheeled rollators have wire baskets under the seat; others have removable satchels/handbags that can be positioned out the front or removed and used as an over the shoulder bag. The Forward Thinker Lifestyle Lightweight Wheeled Walker is particularly generous with storage – having both an out the front satchel as well as a removable shopping bag. A combined storage of 10kg, which is perfect for shopping. Walking cane holders, comfortable back rests and seats, as well as curb lifters and ergonomic handles as just some of the standard features in the Forward Thinker Lifestyle’s folding and lightweight ranges.
Match likely usage to your circumstance and identify the must have requirements and (if need be) the willing to compromise elements. Understanding how you will use the walker and your personal circumstance is key to deciding on which walker rollator will be right for you.
Walker capacity for example. Most of our lightweight walkers have a maximum weight capacity of 136kg. Walkers over these capacity tend to be heavier as they have steel frames and hence may not be considered to be lightweight walkers. If you use your walker and drive a small car, then, getting your wheeled walker in and out may be best served by a compact folding wheeled walker or worth the extra expense of the carbon fibre walker. Baskets and storage areas for shopping and or other items that need transporting may also be important, as well as a mobility walker that allows for all terrain (grass, paths, indoors and out). The key point here, is understand your needs and seek out wheeled walkers that best fit these, as not all mobility walkers are the same.
Quality and Value
Today they are wheelie walkers to match every budget. However, as they say, cheap does not always translate into quality. For example carbon fibre is an expensive raw material. Steel is a lot cheaper but much heavier to lift, and aluminium is between the two. Hence lightweight walkers tend to be more expensive then the steel counterparts
Features and raw material/workmanship is usually the trade off with cheaper rollators. Parts may not last as long. Additional safety features like curb raisers, reflectors and stylish storage solutions are usually non-existent and brake cords may be loose or exposed, making it easy to catch on things. Product warranties is another thing to consider when deciding on the right wheeled walker for you.
Parts and Accessories
Access to spare parts (like replacement wheels), additional storage baskets and other accessories, as well as ease when needing to service brakes and wheels is an important consideration when buying any mobility aid. And wheeled walkers are no different. Buying from a reputable retailer (online included) should be part of the purchasing decision. Lightweight walkers tend to be well made and sold by reputable retailers. In Australia there are many reputable stockists who have strong after sales and service programs. Aged Care & Medical pride ourselves on our after sales service, including assembly support and post sales service support.
A wheelie walker should provide comfort as part of the mobility support. A comfortable seat, hand brakes that are easy to use and a back rest that is not made of metal so that feels like it is poking into your back rather than supporting it. Many of the lightweight rollators are now made with fabric back rests and seats (rather than metal and hard plastic). Feather touch braking systems and easy folding also add to the comfort of these modern rollator walkers.
Choose a wheeled walker that enhances your personality. Your mobility aid is a reflection of you. Looking older than you feel, or being seen as ‘really old’ is one of the common reasons people resist mobility aids. Innovation in lightweight walkers are changing the way Australians perceive the humble wheelie walkers. Stylish, ergonomically designed features and bright colour pallets are not only popular, they are designed to look great! Removing the stigma of the traditional boring, ‘make me look really old’ wheelie walker.
Choosing a wheelie walker that does not look like everyone else, not only espouses personality, it can prove very helpful. Dementia patients, identify with bright colours and simple assembly. Aged Care facilities often look for ways to make sure wheelie walkers do not get mixed up amongst the residents. Choose a light weight walker, like the Forward Thinker Lifestyle Range and with bright colours and additional accessories identification becomes a lot easier!
Ask is your lightweight wheeled walker TGA compliant? TGA is the Australian Therapeutic Goods Association. They are governing body for class 1 medical devices, which Wheeled Walkers are categorised under. All walkers in Australia, should be TGA approved and have a TGA number that you can review and reference if required. To find out more on the TGA, you can visit their very helpful and comprehensive website. To check a lightweight walker’s TGA number and registration you can visit the ARTG which is the TGA’s up to date directory.