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A Stride in the Right Direction: Walker Safety for Aging Adults

A senior woman uses a walker while supported by a loved one or caregiver.

• Aging adults may need to use a walker after surgery or injury. Older folks who lack strength or have certain medical conditions may also need a walker.

• There are a variety of different types of walkers to choose from, including hemi walkers, standard walkers, and wheeled options.

• Using a walker safely is important if you want to prevent falls and accidents. Safety tips for using a walker include inspecting wheels regularly, wearing the right shoes, and preparing your home appropriately.

If you’re an aging adult who needs to start using a medical walker, you may be worried about how it may change your life and your ability to move around.

On the other hand, if your parent or grandparent now has to use a walker, you may be concerned for their safety.

Being worried about this is all perfectly normal. While using a walker is an adjustment, it may be comforting to know that these mobility aids are quite common. 

In fact, over 16% of Americans older than 65 currently use mobility aids.

With the practical tips we outline in this article, you can better prepare yourself or your aging loved one to begin using a walker. In this article, we share some advice on using a walker safely so you have peace of mind to move with confidence. 

Reasons Why Aging Adults May Need a Walker

There are a couple of reasons why you or your aging loved one may need to start using a walker. 

We understand that these scenarios may be upsetting and difficult to deal with but remember, a walker is designed to improve your quality of life and make it easier for you to move around.

Surgery or injury

A physical therapist or doctor might recommend that you use a walker after surgery. This may also be the case if you break bones in the foot, leg, or hip.

Medical conditions

A walker may be needed if you have trouble balancing, weakness in your legs, or instability while walking due to an illness.

A senior woman with a walker stands next to her grandchildren.

Walkers are also sometimes recommended for aging adults with medical conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis.

How to Choose the Right Walker for Your Needs

It may be comforting to know that there is a wide variety of walkers to choose from based on your specific needs. 

Ultimately, the option you go with should make it as easy as possible for you to get around on your own.

Key Point: Always Test a Walker Before Purchasing It

Before buying your walker, always test it out first. You want to make sure it’s designed in a way that’s easy and comfortable for you to use so you can enjoy spending time walking.

Standard walker

Often called a pickup walker, this standard aid usually has four legs with rubber tips rather than wheels, so it’s not a rolling walker.

While this type of walker typically provides the most stability, it has to be lifted as you walk, which may be a bit difficult depending on your needs and physical abilities.

A standard folding walker is a good idea because it’s easy to transport or store for complete convenience.

Hemi walker

You might want to consider using a hemi walker, which is more like a cane than a standard mobility device. 

A hemi walker is designed for aging adults who want to use a cane but require more stability. This is especially useful if you have one weaker leg or if you can only use one arm.

Two-wheel walker

Also called a front-wheel walker, this device has two large wheels at the front and two legs with rubber tips at the back.

Rolling walkers are perfect for anyone who needs extra help with balancing. But the wheels may cause falls, so keep this in mind when choosing the right option for you.

Three-wheel walker

This is sometimes referred to as a rollator walker. It looks a bit like a scooter with hand brakes and a sportier design than other options.

A walker with three wheels can make it easier to turn corners or pass through narrow doorways. Sometimes, they even come with a handy basket to hold your belongings.

Four-wheel walker

By far one of the most popular walkers, this aid has a bench seat. This is really useful if you get tired while walking and need to sit for a while.

It usually includes a basket for your essentials and hand brakes for added safety.

This walker is typically recommended for people who don’t have severe balance issues, as the wheels may make it harder to maintain your footing.

Knee walker

A knee walker typically has four wheels, a handle, and a platform to rest an injured knee or leg on. Your other leg pushes the walker forward.

This type of walker is intended for shorter periods of time when you have problems with your leg, ankle, or foot, or if you’ve recently had surgery that makes walking difficult.

Key Point: Sizing Your Walker

To ensure complete safety, your walker needs to be the right height. The walker handle should be in line with your wrist when standing inside of it.

In the case of a four-wheeled walker, ensure that your seat isn’t too high or too low, which may cause strain or discomfort.

You should also check the walker you want to buy for its weight capacity. Each of them has different weight-bearing limits.

Tips for Using a Walker Properly for Ultimate Safety

Once you’ve found the right walker for your needs, you may be concerned about how to use it safely, and we completely understand why this is worrying.

Here are our top safety tips to give you and your family peace of mind when using a walker:

Moving the walker forward

To prevent falls and accidents, it’s best to always start by putting your walker a step ahead of you. To avoid losing your footing, try as much as possible not to hunch over the walker as you place your weight onto it.

Stepping into the walker

You don’t want to lose your balance while stepping into your walker, which could be dangerous. By moving your stronger leg forward into the middle of the walker first, you can avoid accidents.

Move with care

Protecting your body from strain or injury is an important part of walker safety. You can do this by staying as upright as possible while moving. 

It may help to lift your eyes and look ahead of you rather than downwards—but we understand this may be scary to do when you first start using a walker.

Regularly inspect the wheels

At least once a week, you’ll want to take a quick look at your walker’s wheels, rubber tips, and lock brakes to ensure they’re all in working order. You may want to ask a loved one to help you with this inspection.

If anything gets stuck on the rubber tips, for example, it can make the walker unsteady and lead to a fall.

A senior uses a walker outside.

Replace parts right away

When tips and wheels become worn, it may be unsafe to use the walker. A broken walker can lead to unwanted trips and falls.

If you notice that your walker is becoming harder to use, it typically means it’s time to replace a part. 

Invest in the right footwear

An important part of using a walker correctly is the shoes that you wear. Choose footwear with low heels and a good grip to prevent tripping and falling.

Remove fall hazards

An essential part of walker safety is modifying your home to suit your new device. You can start by removing any objects in the walker’s path, like loose rugs. 

Key Point: There’s No Harm in Jazzing Things Up

Your walker doesn’t have to be boring. You can decorate your new mobility aid with stickers or reflective tape. Just be sure these decorative items won’t become trip hazards—your safety comes first!

You can also purchase all kinds of fun and useful accessories that attach to your walker to make life easier. These include pouches to carry items like books and cellphones—and even a food tray.

How to Make Using a Walker Even Safer

If you’re worrying about your aging loved one’s safety while using a walker, we have a solution. A medical alert device from LogicMark can connect an aging adult to emergency services, their caregiver, or their loved ones at the touch of a button.

This means that, in emergencies, you or your aging loved one will get help right away.

Our devices can conveniently be worn around the neck or clipped to a belt, so older adults don’t have to try to carry or reach for their device while using a walker.

A medical alert device is the best way to keep you or your aging relative safe while navigating life with a new walker. Visit our website to find the right medical alert device for your needs.


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