The bottom line is that rollators are not for everyone – especially those with balance issues!
If you have issues with balance, weakness while standing, or need a firm immobile support to help you walk, you should not use a rollator and you should use a walker instead, see Figure 2.
A rollator is a great choice if you can balance yourself but need a place to sit frequently or you need help carrying oxygen tanks, or other necessities. A rollator is also helpful if you have weakness in your arms and you have a hard time lifting up a regular walker.
When using a walker you should lift the walker and move it forward without moving your feet, so you are only moving the walker forward as far as your arms will allow. Once the walker is back on the ground, then you can step forward. This is repeated until you arrive to your destination. It is not safe to walk and move the walker at the same time.
Most of the advantages of a rollator can be disadvantages, too. Easy to propel means that the rollator can roll away from a patient. Easy to maneuver means that the patient needs to have good abdominal strength to keep from falling. Furthermore, the brakes do not necessarily stop the walker. Rather, when the brakes are pressed the Rollator essentially turns into a rolling walker; it may slow the patient but it is not going to stop a runaway patient and rollator. If the patient is dependent on the brakes to stop when using this walker, then this is not the appropriate walker choice.
These safety tips are some of the more than 140 safety items that Senior Helpers looks for during our LIFE Profile assessment process and care plan design for our clients.
Frank Hayes is the Owner of Senior Helpers in greater Austin Texas and a Research Fellow with Performance Based Healthcare Solutions. He can be reached at FHayes@seniorhelpers.com . Senior Helpers’ Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/SeniorHelpersCentralTexas/