Why Do Elderly Need Walkers?

Last Updated: 05.12.19

 

It’s not uncommon to see elderly parents or grandparents get less steady and have balance problems as they age. The reasons why that happens are various yet, in most cases, the person having mobility issues may need an assistive walking device and if that’s your case, you can find out more info here before buying such a product.

However, since the cause that leads to instability and the inability to walk independently differs from one case to another and the market offers a variety of walking devices, we have covered below several aspects regarding the health problems that call for a walker, when such a device is really needed, and the types of walkers available for sale.

 

When is a walker needed?

More often than not, walker users have musculoskeletal and even neurological problems that prevent them from walking independently and doing so safely. Some of them may resort to such a device because of their arthritis whereas other people relying on a walker to get from one place to another do so when recovering from a surgery or a debilitating illness.

Other conditions that call for the use of a walker include osteoporosis, knee or hip fracture, Parkinson’s disease, hemiplegia, or multiple sclerosis. People suffering from proprioception may also need to use a walker as this condition occurs when one is no longer aware of one’s body position in relation to the environment.

Sometimes, it’s just muscle weakness the one that requires the use of a walking device. Additionally, vision problems also call for a walker as it will help the affected people detect things that should be avoided and thus enable them to get a sense of their surroundings.

Whether your senior suffers from one of the above-mentioned conditions or you notice instability and reduced mobility, it is always safer to see a doctor. Make sure your parent or grandparent gets diagnosed properly and follow your doctor’s advice when it comes to the type of walker best suited to your senior’s conditions.

Not using the right type of walker may actually make it more difficult for your senior to move from one place to another safely. That’s why it is also best to try out a product before you buy it and see how your senior feels when using it.

Why use a walker?

The benefits of using a walker when you experience stability problems are various. Such a device will help you get the support you need and thus prevent mishaps from occurring. Balance problems increase the likelihood of unfortunate events such as slipping and falling, which can further cause serious health problems. Therefore, a walker becomes a safety device.

Using one will not only help you move around safely and get the support you need when you’re out of balance but will also enable you to cover a greater distance and reduce your discomfort and pain when walking. This further translates into increased independence and thus self-confidence, which can help one in so many ways.

Moreover, if you can’t tolerate the full weight of your body through your leg because of muscle weakness or pain, a walker will take on some of your weight by allowing your arms to assist you as you use them to push down on the frame. You will thus move more comfortably and reduce pain. Furthermore, you will correct your posture.

In case the senior has a heart condition, breathing problems, or simply gets fatigued easily, a walker can work as an energy saver and help the user enjoy increased endurance. Not to mention that the lack of activity or hospitalization affects muscle strength, which can decline and thus prevent one from enjoying the desired agility.

Employing an assistive device will help you re-build muscles and increase mobility. The use of a walker proves to be crucial to one’s safety. A walker with a wider base will provide the user with the needed stability to advance and reach a certain destination.

Walker types

The market offers a variety of walker models and finding the right one for your needs might prove to be a challenging task. That’s why the first thing to do is to see a doctor and get your senior diagnosed properly. Once your senior’s health condition has been identified, you will be able to narrow down the list of walker options.

Your doctor should recommend the type of walker best suited for your parent or grandparent. Trying it out before buying it is ideal as you will thus be able to see how the senior feels when employing the device, how stable the product is, and how much your grandparent can actually benefit from it.

Even if the great variety of walkers available these days might confuse you at first, it is this very diversity the one that will help you find the right item for your needs. You will find basic frame walkers without wheels yet with rubber tips. This is a common choice as it offers the most stability since there are no wheels that could slip.

This walker type won’t move by itself as it may happen with wheeled walkers and will thus provide you with more support and help you control your body. It is ideal for walking short distances or from when you want to move from a chair to a sofa. It is true that it requires the senior to pick it up and move it before every step yet the stability provided is worth doing all that.

Then you will also find walkers with two front wheels and two back glides. Such a walking device is recommended only if you still enjoy enough mobility and you don’t have problems with bearing much of your body weight through your legs. This type provides significant support and is easier on the arms.

What’s great about such a model is that it doesn’t need you to lift it but to push it instead. The front wheels make it roll easily while the back glides enable you to control the speed and slow the movement. However, this type is ideal for indoor use as the small front wheels may get stuck if you’re using it on a bumpy surface.

In case your mobility and independence are only slightly reduced yet you still need the support provided by a walker, you might want to try a model with 4 wheels. The market now offers units that also feature a seat and a braking system. You will find lighter versions you can use indoors and heavier models designed for outdoor use.

There are various factors to consider when choosing a walker. Your doctor’s recommendation is the starting point. Still, you might also want to pay attention to the comfort and maneuverability provided, the durability of the materials used, and the walker weight.

Plus, you might want to go for a storage-friendly design if you don’t have too much space at disposal or you need to transport the walker. Make sure that when you try out the walker, the senior wears supportive shoes and you choose it after you’ve measured it as well.

If the walker is too high or too short, there will be no discomfort reduction when using it but, on the contrary, the user might find it even more difficult to walk when employing an inappropriately-sized walker.

 

 

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