Mobility aids are equipment designed to assist with walking or other movements. They’re typically used by older adults or those who have disabilities or injuries to retain independence. A mobility aid can be an essential part of safely aging in place – but, how do you know which one is right for your needs? Let’s talk about the most common mobility aids for seniors!
Canes are designed to be used by those who are able to walk independently but would appreciate added support.
“C” Cane, AKA Standard Cane or Single Point
This is perhaps the most commonly used cane as it’s widely available and pretty inexpensive. C canes are defined by their hook shape and single-point tip. These canes provide light support and are not designed to carry a lot of weight.
Suitable for: People who need minor assistance with balance or periodically need to keep weight off of one leg.
The construction of an offset cane is a little more sturdy. The handle is a slightly curved L-shape, designed to relieve any discomfort of the wrist and improve weight distribution. Offset models will provide more support than standard canes, though they’re typically used for the same purposes.
Suitable for: People who need minor assistance with balance or more weight support when standing up or sitting down.
A quad cane features a four-pronged base, making it the most sturdy of all designs. The handle is usually offset for comfort.
Suitable for: People who require a lot of support when walking, sitting down, or standing up.
Usually made of aluminum or steel, a bariatric cane can be offset and quad. This design is made to support up to 500 pounds of weight.
Suitable for: People who need assistance with balance or walking and are over 300 pounds.
A walker is designed for stability. It is dependably sturdy; perfect for those who have arm function, but weaker leg strength.
Two handgrips, a four-point base, and a durable frame make standard walkers easy to use. Most are foldable and lightweight, which makes for easy transportation. A standard walker offers just a bit more stability than a cane.
Suitable for: Those who need help maintaining stability.
Just like a standard design, there’s a four-point base; the difference is in the composition. The front two points are wheels rather than solid, rubber-tipped legs. Two-wheel walkers are less about stability and more about mobility. So, the user must put weight on the walker while moving to drive it forward.
Suitable for: Those who have limited mobility or are slower-moving.
A rollator is a walker that has four wheels and a built-in seat. Many have adjustable heights and feature a higher capacity for weight.
Suitable for: People who need help with stability and mobility, and frequently take breaks when walking.
A wheelchair can be necessary for various reasons – mobility, injuries, illness, etc. It’s basically a chair that is fitted with wheels. Although there are many different designs, there are two main types: manual and power-driven.
Usually featuring shorter backrests, manual wheelchairs are self-propelled. In other words, either the user moves the wheels with their arms or a caregiver pushes. Manual wheelchairs come in various styles; many lightweight and foldable for easy transport.
Suitable for: Those who have had a recent injury or illness, or have very limited mobility but have full use of their arms.
Power wheelchairs are electric, so they have batteries and may be rechargeable. They feature controls that the user moves around to drive and steer. Power wheelchairs are usually heavier (because of the large wheels and motor).
Suitable for: People with little to no mobility.
Mobility scooters are power-driven and have rechargeable batteries. Some have three wheels and some have four. They’re designed to be easily folded or disassembled for transport.
Suitable for: People who have difficulty walking for longer periods of time or may have an injury that limits mobility.
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