Rollators Buyers Guide – An overview of their features & benefits
These are some of our most popular mobility aids around because of their usefulness, ease of use and versatility.
The ideal aid for those who find walking difficult when unaided, rollator walkers help to give back your independence as they provide great support and stability.
When it comes to purchasing one, here are the key features which you will need to consider:
Grip style and grip height
Varying from model to model, the height at which the grip handles will be situated will usually be height adjustable so that they meet your hands in then most natural and comfortable way possible.
Maintaining a relaxed posture is critical to maintaining good control over the walker so you must ensure that these are adjusted so that they are set at the correct height.
To help you understand what height you should set them at you should stand up with your arms dangling naturally by your side – the ideal grip height should be the distance from the floor to the wrist bone.
If you can’t get someone to measure this for you can visit one of our shops and you can simply place your arms next to a rollator set at different heights to see whether it is right for you.
Almost all of our grips very comfortable and feature some kind of ergonomic design which means that has been designed to fit your hand as you grip it. You can see this here on the red model from Days:
Size, diameter and style of the wheels
When it comes to pushing a walking aid outdoors, the larger the wheel the more smooth you will find the experience and the easier it will be to take it up and down kerbs. Smaller wheels are more designed for indoor use, such as the extra small wheels found on a standard walking frame.
All of the above rollators are suitable for outdoor use, although perhaps the smallest of the Days lightweight models are more suited for semi-occasional outdoor use for places near your home as it has a wheel diameter of 150mm (6” approx.) rather than the more usual 200mm (8”) diameter.
Some wheels are thinner than others, and some are more rounded, but the style you prefer will be down to the terrain you will be taking it on and your own personal preference.
Because the tyres are solid and not air-filled (pneumatic), they cannot puncture so you will not be left stranded having to carry the walker home. Because the brake is applied directly to the wheel you should expect natural wear to form on this over time.
However, we do recommend that you avoid using the walker in more rural areas or places such as the beach or any other place where you might get liable to become stuck as they are designed to be used on firm ground.
Unlike their 3 wheeled cousins, a 4 wheel walker usually has the great added benefit of coming complete with a travel seat
This means that should you need to take a break somewhere, you won’t have to find a bench or struggle for a spot in a bus stop – you can simply apply a lock brake and you can have your own private seat wherever you are.
The seat height is a key consideration so you should pay very close attention to this figure as it will be important when it comes to maintaining correct posture. The seat height is not adjustable so you need to ensure that the height is suitable for you before purchase.
To know whether it is suitable for you, you should ensure that when you are seated your legs and feet don’t dangle in the air and that you can easily place your feet flat down on the floor.
As well as the seat height you should also check the distance between the handles as well so that you know whether you will fit comfortably on the seat. If it is too narrow you will struggle to get in and out of the seat but if it is too wide you won’t be able to use the grip handles as armrests comfortably, so you need to find a balance.
To not only help you enjoy a greater degree of comfort but also for your safety, there will usually be some kind of backrest included and the type of backrest will differ from model to model.
This can either be straight, such as on the rollator & transit chair combination model:
They can also be slightly curved so that they are more ergonomic such as on the Homecraft models:
They can also curve right around the back to provide side support as well as back support, such as on the very attractive and comfortable Days lightweight model:
Brakes to help you stay in control
As there are wheels on all four legs you will need to be able to easily control the walker in whatever environment you use it in.
Operated using loop brakes, these are somewhat like bicycle brakes as they require you to pinch them using your forefingers to apply the pressure.
You can see how this works in this image – the brakes are squeezed which is on a cable system which pulls a brake down onto the rear wheel:
Situated in an easy to reach spot usually below the handgrips, these do require you to have some dexterity and strength in your hand so if you suffer from problems such as arthritis then you might need to seek a different solution.
We can help you find the right aid so if this is a problem then please contact us and we will try to find you the perfect aid to meet your requirements. For example, you might want to view a three wheel walker which has push down brakes. Other products might be available so get in touch with us.
If you can operate the loop brakes however you will find that you will have great control over the wheels and that you can operate it safely even if you are going up and down a slope.
We recommend that you take your time when you first receive the walker and you start slowly and test out the braking mechanism somewhere quiet and away from other road users and pedestrians at first.
Foldable to make it easy to store and transport
As they are a bit wider than their three wheel counterparts, storage and transportability are very important considerations when it comes to their general day to day use.
To help make both of these easier most of the above rollators are all foldable so that their overall profile is greatly reduced, making them easier to tuck away somewhere. This is ideal for allowing it to be placed in your car boot for instance, or even placed out of the way whilst sitting down ion a café so that it isn’t left in aisle in other people’s way.
Folding them are generally very simple and easy to do and usually involves tipping the seat and backrest up, unhooking a mechanism and folding and pushing the two wheels together. When you unfold it back to its normal state is very important to redo the process thoroughly and to ensure that it is upright and correctly locked into place before
One important thing to note about folding rollators is that they may come with a basket for storage but this must be removed prior to attempting to fold it up.
If it comes with a soft storage bag this should be able to be folded up with it provided it is empty and free from any items.
As we have just mentioned, there often some kind of storage option to help you with carrying smaller items to hand.
This is either in the form of a bag under the seat, a basket or a net bag in the case of the Days lightweight model.
As we have previously mentioned the basket must be removed should you need to fold it up so you will need to balance your needs between transportability and usability accordingly.
An example of this would be if you needed to just get a few items from your local shop on a short trip – you will be able to attach the basket, head out, carry your shopping in the bag or basket and get back home without any need to fold it up to get on or off any public transport or your own car.
This refers both to the actual physical weight of the walker itself as well as the safe maximum load weight which can be applied to it.
This must take careful consideration to both into account as you will want to ensure that you can safely use it for its intended purpose as well as being easy to lift and manoeuvre when you need it.
The maximum user weight – This varies widely because the lighter models are designed for transportability and are constructed from aluminium whilst the steel models are designed for bariatric use and need to be capable of withstanding greater load weight.
One thing to note about the upper weight figure as that this takes in not only the pressure exerted on it by you, but also the amount of weight placed in the bags or baskets as well so try not to overload it with too many heavy things to stay as safe as possible.
The weight of the rollator itself – This is one of the most important considerations when it comes to selecting your ideal walker.
If you are a lighter user and you will need to lift the scooter from the boot of your car or if you are going to be lifting up and down kerbs a lot then you are going to want a frame constructed from aluminium.
If you are a heavier user you might want to consider a bariatric model because these are constructed from steel for unbeatable strength. Although they are heavier than their aluminium counterparts they come with a far greater load limit capacity so they are safer for you to use.
Again, it’s all about balancing your needs and taking usability and safety into consideration and coming up with a model which is ideal to help you regain your mobility – if you do need any help we are on the other end of the telephone so please give us a call if you would like any help.
4 wheel walkers – great for aiding with your independence
Hopefully this overview has helped you to understand what features you need to look for in a rollator.
If you would like to one out prior to purchasing one our shops always have a few different models in stock so why not pop in to visit us to see whether we can help you find your ideal aid.
Of course, you are also welcome to buy your walker online with us but if you have any questions at all get in contact with us by calling us on 0800 0334 060 first.