What are the most important things we want out of life? Maybe to be healthy, financially secure, have choices, be physically active/able and independent are just a few things. Maybe we could add “having all our senses” to that list!! Having the freedom and independence to go when and where we like is (often) something we take for granted when we are younger and especially so when physical health, strength, balance and mobility are not what they used to be. Which is where having a little extra support in the form of a rolling walker, specifically narrow walkers for seniors.
Feeling unsteady on your feet or losing confidence in your balance can be confidence sapping at the best of times, even creating fear about going out on your own in case something happens. These days there are a number of handy solutions to help support you if balance or instability is an issue with the various kinds of aid equipment readily available.
Here’s a few options available:
Luckily, there is help at hand. With the right walker, you can be far more independent, being able to move from one place to another. For today, we would like to share with you what to look for when choosing the most appropriate narrow walker for seniors, what features to look for, and how to choose the right one.
Why Do You Need A Narrow Walker?
1 Word- maneuverability. If this is your first experience in buying one, you’d be forgiven in thinking all narrow walkers for seniors are basically all the same- just a few different designs to choose from. When my ability to move was affected by obesity and consequent operations, I had to buy a rollator walker for support. It was a wake up call for me.
Some of the walkers for seniors on the market are bulky and very heavy. Instead of ease, you’ll have problems navigating anything, instead of helping you through. You’ll struggle with getting through doorways, and I can say from experience maneuvering in small spaces will be a nightmare!! Plus, they can cause muscle pain in the neck, back and shoulders from the sheer weighty heaviness.
The most suitable narrow walkers for seniors are foldable, lightweight, small, and very convenient to use. Here’s our guide on what are the different types of walkers for the elderly. This may help you narrow down which walker is best for your personal situation as there are so many on the market now days.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Narrow Walkers For Seniors
There are different features to keep in mind when buying a narrow rollator walker. Factor in the capabilities of the user, health, and size. Let’s explore the topic in a little more detail below.
Styles of Walkers
There are different styles to consider when buying narrow walkers for seniors, including:
- Basic walkers have no wheels and typically have 4 legs. The frame is sturdy, usually made from aluminum, providing stability and support. Most of them are adjustable in height.
- A Narrow Folding Walker is compact, lightweight and will fold when you need to store it. They are however, not suitable for anyone with a larger frame.
- Wheeled Walkers or rollators with 2, 3, or 4 wheels. Walkers with wheels are more comfortable to maneuver because you do not need to use a lot of strength. You can negotiate in small spaces, and are very stable.
Some have additional features such as an inbuilt basket, removable trays, among others.
- 2-wheel walkers have 2 front wheels instead of legs. They are easier to use than the basic type because it eliminates the need to pick up the walker every time you need to take a step. They also work well on uneven surfaces.
- 3-wheel rollator has 1 front and 2 back wheels. They are fantastic for tight spaces, are easy to maneuver and are portable. They, however, do not have seats. These are best for people needing a small degree of stability.
- 4-wheel rollators have 2 wheels at the front and 2 wheels at the back. They are much more stable and provide better support. The heavy-duty kind is suitable for heavier individuals and typically has larger and wider wheels for extra stability.
- Ultra-light Walkers are suitable for frail seniors. They typically have the front-wheel design and lightweight aluminum construction.
- Small walkers are for people with short stature and allow for use without needing to elevate the arms.
Narrow walkers for seniors with seats are excellent for those who have weak muscles, an injury, or are in the process of recovering from surgery. They typically have 4 wheels and a backrest, allowing you to take the pressure off your feet and arms.
Hemi walkers have four legs and enable the use of one hand.
Adjustable Handle Height
The correct height of the handles plays a significant role with regards to offering the best support and balance. When the handles are set too low, the user will have to bend over, or lean forward, putting undue strain on the body and putting the user off balance. If the handle height is too high, he or she will have to lift the arms up higher than necessary, which is uncomfortable, creating shoulder strain and will not provide the most helpful support. Here’s a helpful guide.
Whenever you take measurements for narrow indoor rollators, stand straight with the arms hanging by the side. Now, measure from the floor to the wrist crease. You may need help with this. It will give you an optimum height for the handle.
Some of the walkers will allow you to adjust the height, making them suitable for taller or shorter people.
If measuring for a walker with a seat, follow the procedure above. However, take the measurement reading from the floor to the back of the knee.
Buying A Rollator For Indoor Use? Check The Walker Width
When buying narrow indoor rollators, it is essential that you get one that suits your home and places you visit. Most will typically range from 21 to 24 inches, making them suitable for the majority of interior spaces. The best size is closer to a 23″ wide walker.
You will find some manufacturers say their rollator for indoor use will fit all doorways but that isn’t so. Some are as wide as 38 inches, but you may have trouble using them indoors since most of the standard interior doors are 28 to 32 inches.
Narrow Walker Wheels
Choosing a walker with the right sized wheels will make life a lot easier when you are out and about the walkers. Larger wheels give a smoother ride which is less jarring on the hands and arms. Small wheels tend to bump and jump over every uneven surface.
The best narrow walkers for seniors ideally are comfortable to use on all types of surfaces, including rough terrains. Typically, rolling walkers have wheels that are 6-8 inches in diameter. You may find smaller ones, which are 4-5 inches, and they work very well for confined indoor spaces. The weight of the user will determine the wheel size.
Weight and Portability
You will typically find indoor walkers for seniors that can comfortably accommodate weight loads of up to 300 lbs. The more specialized kinds can carry up to 600 pounds, but are quite expensive.
Types of Locking Brakes
Most narrow walkers have the standard loop-lock brakes, which work in the same way as what you find in a bicycle. The brake levers are on the handle and connect to the brake pads on the rear wheels.
When you apply pressure on the handle, it triggers the braking system to apply pressure on the wheels, slowing it down. To completely stop or park, you need to push down on the lever so that you lock the brakes.
Narrow walkers with seats should have the loop lock braking system to avoid rolling when the walker is used as a chair.
Another option are pushdown brakes that only work when you apply downward pressure on the spring-loaded frame. The locking system isn’t a safe system for seniors who do not have sufficient body strength or a weak handgrip.
Final Thoughts On Finding The Right Narrow Walkers For Seniors
Finding the right outdoors and indoor walkers for seniors can take some time as there are so many options available on the market, so we are lucky in that respect. Talk to friends who have bought a walker and see what their experience is, explore forums as people love to share and chat to various businesses for advice before buying.
Retaining your mobility and independence is priceless and not having to depend on anyone to move from one place to another makes life much less frustrating! Narrow walkers for seniors let you go rolling around your home from the kitchen to the laundry, chose to sit out in the garden on a sunny day or taking a leisurely walk in the neighborhood, you can do so with ease when you’ve got the stable support of a walker.