How Do I Pick the Right Walker?

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in January of 2022. For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8joiX-7MRU

Bob: We’re going to show you how to pick a walker. This could be for you, or it could be for a loved one. But it’s important because if you choose the wrong one, it could cause falls, or they may just not use it.


Brad: Right, and that takes away the benefits of it.


Bob: Right. So, the first question, we’re going with six questions that you need to answer. The first question is the most important, Brad, and that’s, does the person have to transport the walker? In other words, do they have to take the walker and put it in their car, take it some place.


Brad: Get up and down stairs. That’s where you can really have some dangerous falls.


Bob: So, we’re running into this with my mother-in-law. The ideal walker for her would have been the OasisSpace Upright Walker because it has the platform attachments, it also has the seat. She could sit down if she gets tired. But she could never lift this into her car.

Brad: It’s made so it folds up, but it’s kind of heavy. When you try to fit it through a car door or in the trunk, you must be strong.


Bob: Yeah, it has huge wheels. We’ll talk about the benefits of that later. We chose a lighter walker for her. It’s an aluminum walker, but it’s fairly lightweight. She’ll be able to lift this. It folds up by pushing the buttons here. It has decent wheel. We’ll talk about why that’s helpful. But that’s the first question you need to ask. The lightest one would be an aluminum one without any platform attachments.

Brad: These are very common. Particularly in hospitals and nursing homes. We’ll talk more about the four wheeled one, which is also common. This is the lightest.

Bob: Let’s talk about the second question, Brad. Does the person need to sit down at times? Now, this could be due to fatigue, it could be due to pain, a lot of spinal stenosis.


Brad: Right, maybe knee pain, and that’s why they need a walker.


Bob: Right, so we like the four-wheel walker. The other thing I like about them is you can get a walker that converts into a wheelchair. We had that one on a program. My mom has that one, so she’ll walk with a family member, she gets tired, we sit her down, it has leg rests on it, and we can just start pushing her like a wheelchair. It works great.


Brad: My parents didn’t like it.


Bob: Oh, I know, yeah.


Brad: It is an individual thing. You need to try it because it’s kind of special.


Bob: Why didn’t they like it?


Brad: I don’t remember, you know how some people are.


Bob: But again, in that case we always have a family member with my mom. Somebody will always transport it for her. They tend to be a little bit wider, wouldn’t you say, Brad?


Brad: What, the ones you sit down in?


Bob: Yeah.


Brad: Well, I don’t know. This is a very common style. It has the seat and whatnot, but the width you do have to make sure like this one, my mother would not be a good candidate for. She’s wider and when she turns around, she wouldn’t fit through there very well. It’s a problem.

Bob: Well, like you said, if it’s too narrow, she would try to sit down, it might scoot away from her. Plus, she might have trouble getting out of the chair.


Brad: So, we got the next walker up, which was three inches wider, much better. She’s happier, and it works great. These do almost always fold up. This is not easy to get into a car. It’s okay for me, but for an elderly person, it’s a little awkward and it’s a good time for falling.


Bob: I want to show one thing as far as going upstairs, Brad. Do you want to grab the aluminum one? Now, walkers in general are not great to take upstairs. Sometimes you do fold them up and if you’re able body, you grab onto the rail and kind of use this. It’s not the greatest.

Brad: It’s awkward. Maybe turn it sideways and get it on the steps.


Bob: Usually what we do, we recommend is you keep a walker on the second floor permanently. Then you put rails going up so they can hang onto the rails to get to the top, then the walkers there.


Brad: Right, so they have a walker upstairs and a walker downstairs.


Bob: I know people that have walkers for outdoors, walkers for the car, walkers for downstairs, and walkers for upstairs.


Brad: Yep, and they are walking, walking, walking.


Bob: Does the person need to get into narrow spaces? There’s a lot of narrow hallways or narrow bathrooms. Again, when you get some of these wheeled walkers, they can be a bit wide because you need to be able to sit down on them.


Brad: The neat thing about the aluminum walkers is you can put the wheels on the inside, which makes them about two inches narrower. It’s easy to do, you don’t have to take a bolt or a wrench. Take them like this and put it on the other side and now it’s going to be wider. The nice thing about that, it’s a little more stable, but it’s not a big deal. A lot of times I just put them on the inside so that it protects the woodwork in the house.

Bob: Exactly. Let’s go to the next question. Will the person use it outside? Now, if you’re going to use it outside, one thing, if you do have wheels, you want to have larger wheels if possible because some of these walkers come with very small plastic wheels and they just do not roll-on sidewalks or dirt or sand very well.


Brad: Even now, these used to be big compared to years ago, but now these are just the average. The wheels one the other one are made for outdoors.

Bob: Those are pneumatic, meaning they have air, which means they’re a little bit better shock absorber, I think.


Brad: Yeah, that one is probably the best for walking outside.


Bob: Now, you may not need wheels at all, we’ll talk about that. In many cases, we prefer wheels because it helps with your balance. The next question, will the person need wheels or gliders or tennis balls? So, a lot of people, if they must lift a walker up, they lose their balance while they’re doing so. So, we prefer that they do use wheels in most cases. Now, the thing is a lot of people think the wheels are going to run away from them. But when they've got two wheels on there and they have gliders on the back, or tennis balls, they don’t. They’re stable.


Brad: Right, it’s amazing. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a person have a wheeled walker get away. Well, with the four wheeled walker, that’s a different story. People may say, what are you talking about, tennis balls? The difference is that’s the back two. If you have tennis balls, it makes it quiet on floors and it avoids scratching the floors. Which is a big deal.


Bob: It’s a big deal. You could get plastic gliders and they work probably once. Then you take it outside and scratch them up. Then you take them inside and they’ll scratch your floor.


Brad: The little piece of dirt can get embedded. We’re talking about the plastic parts.


Bob: They look like little skis.


Brad: Yeah, they’re about two or three inches long, they’re typically white and you can take the rubber piece off and put them in there with a little screwdriver. They were good for if you’re going to be outside, on concrete, and you don’t have a four-wheeled walker. But then if you bring it inside, like Bob says, there's going to be a scratching problem.


Bob: Now, we want to warn you about the tennis balls. A lot of people just take a tennis ball and they’ll cut it themselves. I had two employees that cut their finger trying to do this, I mean, they’re not easy to cut. You can buy pre-cut ones.


Brad: Yeah, get someone that’s handy and used to using a utility knife. To put it on, squeeze the ball and shove it on the back leg of the walker.


Bob: Just like Pac-Man. I used to cut them, Brad, and then I would grab them and split them apart a little further.


Brad: Ooh, you’re strong. Strong like bull.


Bob: Anyway, be very careful on that. So, what’s the final question, Brad?


Brad: I don’t know.


Bob: Does the person need platform attachments? This is not that common that you need these. If you have arthritic hands and you don’t want to put pressure on your hands, this works well because it puts them on your forearms. If you have someone who, again, a family member, she’s really bent over, so we wanted to get her up and this is going to help get her up and standing straight. She can take weight on her forearms for doing so.


Brad: People may think, well you just raise it up and what happens if you raise the whole walker up, instead of bringing the person up, usually they just bend their elbows more and it doesn’t change their posture.


Bob: Exactly. Now, the OasisSpace Upright came with platforms, right?


Brad: Yeah.


Bob: This one was designed to have these platforms on here. You can take them off, but the standard front wheeled walker was not designed to have platforms, so you must buy the full platform, it’s a pain in the butt.

Brad: Yeah, they connect on here and it works, but it’s difficult.


Bob: If you know you’re going to need platforms, buy one that already has them attached. They’re made for it.


Brad: I’ve had some people that have a platform on one side and not the other. Either because they have a broken wrist, or one hand is not functional. Then you’ll need that. It’s nice to grab the other side if that’s a good strong hand.


Bob: Well, we hope we covered most of the basics of how to choose a walker.


Brad: Or maybe we got them thoroughly confused? There are quite a few options, but it’s something you need to be aware of.


Bob: A person’s balance will affect which one they want, and we talked a little bit about that. Again, make sure you have front wheels and if you have four wheels, it’s going to glide a lot easier. The four wheeled walkers have breaks by the way, we forgot to mention that.


Brad: Another thing is, now that we have people bored out of their skull, the brakes are handy. The brakes will loosen up after a while and they don’t work so you must adjust them. We do have a video on that.


Bob: Yeah, tighten the brakes, thanks!


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