Canes, Walkers & Rollers

When a person has difficulty walking because of an injury, a disability or simply because they no longer have the physical strength or dexterity to walk unaided, canes, walkers and rollers become a consideration. Even when a disability scooter or wheelchair becomes a necessity for trips beyond the local neighborhood or beyond the home, these walking aid options are essential DME.

‘DME’, of course, is the acronym for Durable Medical Equipment which encompasses a wide array of healthcare accessories including special toilet seats, shower chairs, face masks, braces and other orthopedic items, bandages and plasters, medical wear (scrubs), to list just a few items; and, yes, ‘DME’ also stands for Dry Malt Extract for those who enjoy brewing their own beer!

Canes and basic walkers are frequently covered and provided under medical plans including Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is the federal healthcare plan for those who have reached the age of 65 and for people with a registered long-term disability regardless of age. Medicaid (which is often written as MedicAid) is also a federal healthcare plan and provides healthcare coverage for individuals and families living below the National Poverty Level (NPL). In many states, such as California for example, the Medicaid program is known by a different name, which, for example, in California is Medi-Cal (often written as MediCal and, by some, very incorrectly written as ‘medical’ which is indistinguishable from medical; capitalization really counts in the medical, aka, healthcare, world).

For examples of DME (durable medical equipment) available from Amazon.com, just click on this a link. To be taken directly to Canes available from Amazon.com, click on this link, and for Walkers & Rollers (Rollators) available from Amazon.com, click on this link.*

Canes:

Walking canes for many people come with a rubber boot or cap on the bottom end, the end that is placed on the ground, but for the elderly, canes that can stand on their own are probably the most popular. After all, canes have a habit of falling over and that means someone has to bend down in order to pick it up. Self-standing canes have a weighted foot with a wide-enough base that will enable the cane to be stood upright and it does not need to be leaned against a wall or some other vertical support.

Cane Feet Options

There is a wide variety of self-standing cane ‘foot-types’ to choose from and our goal here is not to offer a competitive analysis but more to just let you know that there is plenty to explore before making a choice, preferably by ‘trying before buying’ or you are likely to end up with more canes than you want or need, although one type might not fit all of your needs, so having several canes is not at all uncommon.

Foldng Canes

Folding canes are helpful for traveling situations as they can be carried in a suitcase or other baggage, and many come with a carry pouch.

Most canes come with a carrying strap designed to slip over the wrist, allowing you to free up both hands without having to put the cane down.

Pharmacies and other stores often have canes left propped up against the counter by customers who have walked in with a cane and walk out without it!

 To take a look at and order Canes available from Amazon.com, click on this link.*

Walkers & Rollers

The basic walker is a simple frame that a person holds onto with both hands to provide them with support when walking. It is operated by ‘lift, place and shuffle’ movements. The type of walker that is best suited for a senior should be determined with help from a medical professional such as a physiotherapist.

The most basic walker frame has four legs and four feet, each of which has a rubber boot or cap on to prevent the frame from scratching the floor surface.

With this frame, all four feet of the frame have to be lifted off the ground to make each step forward, and, because of this, the basic walker frame has somewhat limited use.

  • Basic walker frames are available in non-folding and folding types, and the handgrip bars may be horizontal or sloped.
  • The walker frame height must be adjustable to accommodate each individual. Some standard-size walker frames might not be an option for either shorter or taller individuals because they won’t adjust to either a low-enough height level or to a high enough height level. (An elderly person, especially those with certain medical conditions may need to have adjustments to the walker height made over time, such as yearly, as we get shorter as we age.)

The height of the walker should be adjusted so that the handles are at the same level as your hips and your elbows should be slightly bent when you are holding the handles.

The next option to consider is replacement of the feet by wheels. However, not every elderly or disabled person is able to manage wheels safely. This is an important decision.

Having wheels means the walker frame can be pushed forward rather than having to be completely lifted to make each step but having wheels, especially having four wheels, can result in a serious accident if the walker ‘runs away’ from the elderly or disabled person. If you have wheels, you must have brakes. As stated earlier – and for safety-sake is worth repeating – the type of walker that is best suited for a person who is elderly or who has a disability should be determined with help from a medical professional such as a physiotherapist.

Walker frames with wheels can be 2-wheel or 4-wheel.

With the 2-wheel walker frame, the two wheels are on the front (leading) legs of the walker. This means that the two back legs have feet without wheels, and the back legs act as brakes.

The two wheels allow the person using the walker to lift the handles such that the back feet clear the ground allowing the walker to be pushed forward. The walker can then be planted back on the ground and the person can then lean on the handles to help them step forward.

Some people will find this easier to operate than the basic type walker frame without wheels, but not everyone. It is only by trying out the two types that one can determine which works best for the individual.

Getting from sitting to standing and from standing to sitting

Before moving on to walkers with 4-wheels, a consideration for all types of walkers that needs to be given thought is how one gets from sitting in a chair to standing with a walker frame, and how one gets standing with a walker frame to sitting in a chair.

Higher chairs are usually easier than lower chairs to get into and out of, especially when the height of the chair is around knee-height. Knee-height means there’s little or no ‘falling back’ into the chair when sitting, and less difficulty pulling or pushing oneself up when getting up from sitting to standing. Also, chairs with armrests help make both getting from sitting to standing and from standing to sitting easier.

An individual’s arm-strength, as well as leg-strength, are significant factors that will determine what is best; what works, and what doesn’t.

To view Walkers & Rollers (Rollators) available from Amazon.com, click on this link.*

Walkers with 4-wheels

Walkers with 4-wheels, which are referred to as rolling walkers – or just ‘rollers’ – or by the name ‘rollator’, offer much greater mobility and freedom for those who are able to use them.

Walkers with wheels mean that a person must be able to operate the brakes!!

The 2-wheel walker’s brakes are the two back feet and only require the individual to drop the back legs, that is to say, to not be lifting them, and pressing down or leaning on the handles is all it takes to operate the brakes.

The 4-wheel walker has to have brakes that are similar to bicycle brakes and they require a certain amount of dexterity of the hands and require hand strength in order to grip and squeeze the brake handles. Many elderly individuals who choose and are able to use this type of walker are able to walk rather than shuffle along, often leaning quite heavily on the handles  and so using the roller to give them a significant amount of support.

The 4-wheel rollers often come with a folding seat with a storage bin or basket beneath the seat which is a useful, multipurpose accessory. The seat provides an opportunity to sit and take a rest from walking, which is extremely useful when ‘standing in line’ – the pharmacy, the check-out line at a store, waiting for a curbside pickup ride to arrive, and so on. Second, if the seat has a storage bin beneath it provides a safe, non-visible secure storage place for a purse; much safer and more secure than a purse hanging on the handlebars!!

Folding

Folded Rollator

Most rollers are collapsible, but they don’t all fold down in the same way. Common to all that have a seat with storage bin or basket is, first, you have to empty or remove the storage bin or basket which now needs somewhere to be stored, so always carry a sturdy, re-useable shopping bag in the storage bin to transfer everything into, including the bin or basket if necessary. The seat usually stays attached to the frame and is just folded up. You then grab the horizonal bar that runs across from one side of the roller to the other, and pull it upwards and the frame then collapses, but you’ll find it’s not exactly a ‘flat pack’, and you’ll also find the wheels and handles (especially) awkward to get to fit into limited spaces, such as the trunk of your car. Upside-down sometimes works when right side up or sideways wont!!

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* Clicking on a link or on an image that has an active link will take you to a product information page which might also be an ordering page

We have independently selected these items because we, in part, selected them based on at the prices offered as of the time of publishing. If you purchase something through our links, your price will not be affected but with some affiliates including Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, we may earn a commission.

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