Walkers are excellent mobility aids that can help older adults maintain their balance and freedom of movement. However, it’s important to know that they can cause falls or injuries if you don’t use them correctly.
Fortunately, there are some best practices that you can follow to prevent accidents and keep your loved ones safe. These include choosing the right walker, using a walker correctly, and maintaining one properly. Read on as we thoroughly discuss each point in this article.
In a hurry?
First and foremost, you should look for a walker that can support your weight and height. After ensuring that it’s compatible with you, follow the basic safety and operational instructions that the manufacturer provided. Avoid putting your full weight on the walker and always keep your eyes on the road for obstacles. Lastly, you should maintain your walker consistently to keep it in proper working condition.
How to choose the right walker for your safety
If you’re using a walker that is too large or too small for your height, you’re more likely to fall. Likewise, if the walker cannot support your weight, you can topple over. Therefore, the first step to walker safety is investing in the right mobility aid.
Check the weight capacity
Before buying a walker, you should determine its weight capacity. If it cannot support your weight, then the chances are that it may collapse quickly. You don’t want to use an unstable walker because it can lead to a fall or injury.
Fortunately, most types of walkers can usually support up to 300 pounds. With that said, you should still double-check the walker’s weight capacity, especially if you’re unsure of your exact weight.
If you weigh more than 300 pounds, check out bariatric walkers instead. These specialized walkers can often handle weights up to 600 pounds depending on the model.
Look for adjustable handle height
Besides the walker’s weight capacity, you should also consider a walker that fits your height.
If the handles are too low, you may tend to hunch over the walker. This can cause back pain and even result in a fall because you’re putting too much weight. So if you have a tall loved one, you need to look for taller walkers specifically.
In contrast, you have to extend your arms to grasp the handles if they are too high. Doing so leads to falls and injuries due to a lack of support.
That’s why it’s best to buy a walker with an adjustable handle height. This feature allows you to set the proper height for the handles, for a more comfortable fit.
Don’t forget the intended purpose
If you’re using a walker that’s not for its intended purpose, you may risk falling or tripping.
It’s important to look for a walker that will allow you to do whatever you require of it. For instance, you may need help maneuvering outdoor terrains. If so, you should use an all-terrain rollator because they tend to have big wheels. These tires make it easy to move across uneven surfaces outside.
How to use a walker safely
You can safely use a walker every day as long as you stick to these safety tips.
Follow the instructions
Manufacturers include manuals in the package for a reason. So make sure to read these instructions as they contain safety information and tips for product-specific use. They will also give you an idea of the dos and don’ts for walker safety.
Keep the walker close to your body
When using a walker, you should position your body close to it. Start by moving the walker forward with the weaker leg to avoid toppling over. You should also stand “inside” the frame to get better stability support. If you’re far away from the walker, you increase the chance of falling because you’re leaned over too much.
Retain your weight over your feet
While walkers can provide much-needed support to your loved one, they cannot handle all their weight. Feel free to use the walker for assistance but remember to keep your weight over your feet. Doing so helps you maintain a good balance without relying too heavily on the mobility aid.
Keep your eyes on the road
For first-time users, it can be quite intimidating to operate a walker. You may be tempted to look down on your feet to keep yourself from falling. However, this could potentially be extremely dangerous! Always keep your eyes on the road to avoid snagging on obstacles, which can result in a fall.
Adjust your speed
While most elderly may feel anxious when using a walker for the first time, others can feel too excited. However, keep the excitement in check. Avoid going too fast, especially if you’ll use it outside where the road conditions might be harmful. Alter your speed accordingly to prevent accidents.
Wear appropriate shoes
This safety tip is often overlooked, but make sure to wear non-slip shoes when you’re going outside with your walker. They will help you move safely across slippery or wet terrains.
Keep the wheels on flat ground
There are some instances when you need to cross thresholds or uneven surfaces. Most mobility aids allow you to do so, but stay on flat terrain as much as possible. This makes it easier to maneuver the walker, thus preventing any accidents.
Use small steps when turning
Navigating a walker around furniture or corners can be quite tricky. Avoid twisting your upper body because you could pull a muscle. You shouldn’t also try to lift the walker when turning as it can lead to falls.
Instead, make sure that your body is parallel to the walker. Then slowly turn the device while keeping it in front of you to maintain good balance.
Avoid overloading your walker
A rollator usually features detachable storage bags that give you space for your daily essentials. However, do not put heavy items inside to prevent toppling the walker over.
Lock the brakes before sitting
Walkers with seats allow you to take a rest whenever you get tired of walking. However, before sitting on walkers with seat, remember to lock the brakes. Then sit as you normally would, with one hand grasping the sit-to-stand handle for support. If you forget this crucial step, you’re at an increased risk of falling as the walker will simply slide backward.
How to keep your walker in proper working order
Now that you know how to use a walker properly, you should also learn how to maintain it. Here are some tips you can follow to ensure your device will continue to keep you safe.
Check the brakes
Always monitor the brakes before using your walker on the road. Check if both right and left brake levers have even pressure. If you notice any signs of wear on the cables, replace them immediately to prevent further complications.
Inspect the screws
You must also check all the screws on your walker and tighten any loose threads. Doing so prevents the walker from collapsing and causing injury.
Consider replacing the tips
If you’ve used your walker for a while, consider replacing the rubber tips of the legs. This allows your loved one to operate the walker smoothly.
Walkers help seniors regain their confidence and ability to move. Using one is often safe, but it can lead to falls or injuries if you don’t operate it properly. That’s why it’s crucial to follow the safety tips in this article to prevent any accidents while using your walker. Thanks for reading!