How to Choose a Rolling Walker / Rollator for Seniors


Having a rolling walker that aids your mobility and safety is essential in this ever-growing, fast-paced world. Ruling out the inconvenient standard walker is a no-brainer, but it can be overwhelming deciding which rolling walker is the best choice for you. 

When choosing your rolling walker, or rollator, there are several things to consider.  

  • Stability
  • Your height
  • Your weight
  • Where you will be going with your walker
  • Personal preferences like comfortability and style and accessories 

These are all important factors. It’s also best to try different rollators out in person—as opposed to online—to truly determine the best option for you. Because your walker will essentially be an extension of you, it’s vital that you pick one that can accommodate all of your needs. There are so many different options today, in many different sizes and with several different features, so let’s dive right into them all.

Test Out Different Device Heights

The height of your walker is one of the most important factors. If your handles are too high or too low, your balance and stability will be affected. Not only that, but you also want to be as comfortable as possible. According to caregiver-aid.com, here is how to figure out the right height for the handles and seat of your walker.

For the height of the handles, stand straight with your arms by your side, and measure the distance from the floor to the crease of your wrists. 

For the height of the seat, measure from the floor to the back of your knees.
Note: Although not all rolling walkers are equipped with a seat, the majority of them do; and they are a great feature to have to be able to sit and rest at any given time.

Keep in mind; there are many walkers on the market that can adjust to an array of heights, so no need to let this overwhelm you. Nonetheless, it is very important that you test out your walker before purchasing. 

Different sized walkers not only have different heights but also different widths. You want to make sure the space between the handles is comfortable for you, as well as the seat. If your seat is too narrow, it may be uncomfortable and also difficult to get in and out of. 

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Consider Your Own Weight

This may sound obvious, but it’s overlooked enough that it needs to be mentioned. Because there are so many factors to weigh, it just might slip your mind! 

Make sure you note the weight capacity of your future walker. Each one has a different maximum weight that it can support, so it’s best to find one that’s well above your own weight. Using a walker that doesn’t support your weight is a disaster waiting to happen.

Where Will You Be Taking Your Walker?

Where you most frequently use your walker will dictate a few other important factors, like wheel size and the ideal weight for your rolling walker. 

Wheel Size

Which wheel size you choose will be dependent on your lifestyle. The difference in size is substantial, so this decision is very important.

Small wheels (typically 5-6”) are ideal for indoors. 

Large wheels (typically 8”) are ideal for the outdoors. These wheels can withstand all terrains and uneven surfaces such as dirt, rocks, and tracks. They are also easier to navigate with, so if you plan on going to lots of places, you’re definitely going to want a walker with 8” wheels. 

These walkers are going to be pricier; however, it will save you from a lot of hassle when navigating different types of terrains. 

Device Weight

If you are lifting your walker yourself in and out of your car or up and down the stairs, you want to make sure it’s not too heavy. Walkers can range from 12-22 lbs. I have an article on how much rollators / wheel walkers weigh here. Test out different walkers, and find one that you’re comfortable with picking up and setting down.

For users who may have other people around to aid in lifting the walker for them, the weight might not be something you need to consider. If having a walker that is large and durable or comfortable to sit on is important to you, then choose a walker that will suit those needs. 

When it comes to accessibility, also weigh in your preferences for how the walker folds up. Some are more compatible than others, so this is also something to consider. Make sure it is the right size for storage both at home and in the car.

Three-wheel walkers are light-weight, compactable, and more maneuverable; however, they don’t have the convenience of a seat. 

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Decide What Extra Features are Important

You will also want to take into account what you will be carrying with you. The wonderful thing about rollators is they also come with storage instead of your standard walker.

Depending on your preferences, you will want to consider whether you purchase a walker with a pouch or a basket. Baskets are easier to access, but some pouches give you more private and secure storage.
Considering what type of storage you’d like will save you from inconveniences down the road. Some walkers have storage that can only be accessed from the seat, which may not be ideal if you’d like to get something out while sitting down.

There are also rollators that come with cup holders, like this one in Amazon. 

Keep in mind, you can purchase accessories for your devices, such as attachable bags with extra storage and pouches, cupholders, baskets, and even food trays. If you’re looking for an easy way to carry your purse or satchel with you, this hook is the perfect addition! Click on the Amazon link to get the most current price.

If you favor compactibility over storage, there are some options, such as this rollator. I wrote an article about, do all rollators fold up here? Click the Amazon link to get the most current prices.

Break locks are another feature you’re more than likely going to want in order to prevent the possibility of your walker rolling away when you’re on a hill or an incline. Fortunately, you will find that most walkers are equipped with brake locks.

Some walking rollers have added accessories like this Health Line Massage Products 2 in 1 Rollator – Transport Chair w/Paded Seatrest, Reversible Backrest and Detachable Footrests. Clink the Amazon link for the most current prices.

Make Sure Your New Walker is Comfortable

As stated before, you definitely want to make sure you try out your walker before you buy it. We’ve already discussed the height of the walker, but another feature that can be easily overlooked is the handles

A handle with a rubber grip is best for those who may lose their grip easily. Plastic grips are ideal for those who tend to have more sweaty hands. Test out the grip of the handles, and make sure they’re comfortable, as this is the point where all of your weight will be barring. If you’d like, you can also purchase custom grips.

Most walkers have the traditional handles and breaks that you will typically see, but maybe you’d prefer upright handles, like this one. Also, note that most three-wheeled walkers have handles like this as well. 

Also, test out the seat. There are models with padded seats to guarantee an enjoyable experience, even when you’re not walking. Nova walkers seem to have the most comfortable padded seats on the market. Click on the Amazon link for the most current price.

Don’t Forget About Style

Let’s face it, the style of walker you choose is most likely going to be dependent on accessibility and mobility; however, even your walker can be a fashion statement! The Nova Walkers mentioned above come in pink and purple as well, deviating from the basic colors that rollators usually come in.

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Conclusion

Remember to take every factor into consideration when purchasing your next rolling walker:

  • Height
  • Weight/Accessibility
  • Wheel Size (Indoor/Outdoor)
  • Durability/Size
  • Handle Orientation and Grip
  • Break Locks
  • Storage
  • Seat Comfortability

Most importantly, make sure to test all of these out by test-running your walker before purchasing. I wrote an article on the best rollators with seats here.

You will be using this device a lot, so ensure that you like the way it rolls and feels. You may be tempted to buy a more cheap option, but this may come back and bite you in the butt down the line if you fail to weigh out every factor. Think of it as an investment, and your mobility will be a much smoother ride, literally!

Steven Abbey

Steven Abbey is a author for Senior Living Headquarters and owns a home in a retirement community. His wife owns a successful family business that has served tens of thousands of people. He also has a electrical technician degree.

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