Walker or Rollator? Here’s how to make the right choice when taking care of an aging parent or loved one…

Walkers, Rollators, Wheelchairs and Accessories

If you’re taking care of an aging parent or loved one, assistance with walking safely can cause some anxiety. We want to keep them safe, but we want them to maintain their independence and freedom to get around! Using a walker or rollator can help.

NCO is proud to carry the NOVA, INVACARE, and MEDLINE brands of walkers and rollators. We’ve helped outline the types of walkers available in the shop in a former blog, but it bears repeating. Deciding between choosing a walker or rollator for your aging loved one can seem a little confusing at first. There are so many options from which to choose! When we add a little communication and common-sense it’s really not that difficult to figure out what’s most appropriate. 

What’s the Difference Between a Walker and a Rollator?

Both provide support and make it easier to walk, just in different ways. A walker is a frame with handles and immovable legs. It will need to be lifted and set down for each step. A rollator is similar, but has wheels and is pushed along in front while walking. Rollators come in models with two, three, or four wheels, and features an optional seat for resting and hand-operated breaks. 

When deciding which is best for their specific needs, think about: 

    • What do they think? No one will know their needs better than your parents. Talk to them about where they’ll use their mobility assistance device the most and how. Try out all of the options available at the shop and see how comfortable they are with each. The more confident they are with a particular kind, the less likelihood of a fall.
    • Their physical mobility limitations. If a person has difficulty walking shorter distances because they can’t bear their entire weight on their legs (either one or both- usually this is common after hip replacement) but they can get around well enough to forego a wheelchair, a walker is a good choice for its extra support. 
    • Where will it be used? For outings to places that will have them on their feet a lot, a rollator might be a good choice as long as they’ll be on flat surfaces most of the time like at the grocery store or shopping outings. It doesn’t require the lifting with each step that a regular walker does, and some models come with a seat for resting. 
    • How’s their stability and balance? Sometimes handling a rollator takes a little more coordination, but if they only need a little help it can be a good option. If they’re not sure, try a regular walker. 
    • What’s their strength like? If either will be used out of the house, consider they may need to be folded and lifted into the car. What’s the easiest to handle?
    • How are they shaped physically? Often, a person’s body shape can determine which they’ll find more comfortable. Again, that’s why it’s very important to try out a few different varieties of each in the store to find the right fit. 

Choosing the right walker or rollator for your needs can mean freedom from reliance upon others to get around. Taking care of an aging parent or loved one so it’s important for your aging loved one to get it right. Get out there and test drive a few, determine how they’ll be used, and find out what’s most comfortable for them physically. Happy parents and safe travels are the goals, with a little homework (and legwork) you can have both!