5 Tips: Walker Safety for Elderly People

Published:  September 4, 2019 Updated: March 18, 2020

By  Cheryl Jerabek

Mobility walkers are popular among seniors because they allow them to retain their independence longer by providing stability and support to their gait.

It’s important to keep in mind walker safety for elderly people.

Oftentimes medical problems complicate a senior’s ability to walk properly. Strokes, amputations, surgeries, and other health conditions caused by aging can leave them too frail, fragile, and weak to walk safely on their own.

The benefits for seniors using walking aids, like walkers, greatly add to their quality of living in a myriad of other ways as well. Getting daily exercise by moving around in a walker is much healthier than sitting in a chair all the time.

Plus, being able to continue doing things they love, such as taking strolls or going shopping, promotes mental health and well-being.

Whether you are a senior using a walker or are a caregiver for someone who is, it’s important to make sure safety is always a priority. Walkers are an aid for balance and strength for the aging but they are not foolproof.

According to an article updated in 2019 on the Very Well Health website entitled “Seniors Tied to Canes and Walkers” by Carol Eustice, over 47,000 seniors in the United States alone visit a hospital emergency room every year for injuries sustained due to a fall.

Of those, 129 of the falls reported daily are directly related to the use of canes and walkers. A shocking 87% of the seniors’ injuries treated in emergency room were attributed to the use of a walker in particular. Roller type wheel walker-related injuries held the record of being the highest of all. The statistics also showed that elderly women fall more than men.

Seeking safety solutions can make the use of a walker much less risky so you can enjoy the benefits of the freedom of mobility.

Disclaimer: We’re not medical professionals and are not giving medical advice. Please check with your doctor or medical professional before using any mobility devices.

Here are some walker safety tips and steps to take to help seniors prevent falls and other injuries from walkers:

1. Types Of Walkers

There are many types of walkers. Choosing one that is a good fit for your personal needs is the first step. Check out our guide to the best walkers for seniors for more info. You may opt for a folding walker or prefer a wheeled walker (also called a rollator).

You may even want a walker, traditional or roller, with extra equipment options and innovative features which provide safety and convenience for seniors such as a built-in seat, extra secure brakes, or a basket on the front of the walker for toting water, medication products, and even a snack.

Your physical therapist, doctor or family members can offer advice on features that may benefit you. They can also help you find the kind of walker that is optimal for your medical situation which also accommodates your likes and dislikes.

2. Position

For the sake of safety, you’ll want to also be sure that your walker is adjusted so that it is situated to the correct height to ensure your hips are aligned evenly with the handgrip.

You should be able to guide the walker with comfort and ease. Accessing the brakes should be simple as well. Positioning a wheel walker which has two or four wheels is the same as with a traditional type.

Do be sure you don’t have to slump down or reach up to the handles or you are likely to encounter aches and pains from the strain and will be at a higher risk for falling.

3. Operation

The person in charge of your senior caregiving or your health assistant will help you learn to walk with your device. If you have used walking aids before, you should have no problem catching on.

To get started, stand with your walker directly before you until you are confident and ready to begin. Then hold on to the handles while you gently push the device a short distance in front of you.

Bear your weight on your arm as much as possible and then slowly step toward the walker with your weaker leg and foot. Make sure you are always paying close attention to walker safety for the prevention of falls. Get your footing and repeat the technique above using your stronger leg and foot.

When using a wheeled walker for mobility, the same tips apply- stand until you feel stable, then take small steps using the pattern above.

4. More Tips On How To Use A Walker

Additional tips for safely operating walkers include making sure the area is clear of clutter and debris, checking for obstacles like loose rugs, and being aware of any vehicle traffic or people who may dart onto the pathway without warning.

Always wear safety shoes with flat rubber soles. Never wear anything on your feet that may put you at risk for a fall such as slippery socks or shoes, shoes with shoelaces that can come untied, unsecured house shoes, flip-flops, or sandals.

We’ve got additional resources here as well.

5. Financing

Many resources and benefits services are available for seniors which help aid in the financing of a walker. Some insurance policies for seniors may even cover the entire cost of a standard folding walker or wheeled walker. Additional safety features may also be included.

If your loved one is an Alzheimer patient or has a specific medical condition or multiple conditions, be sure to contact a charity or foundation for the particular ailment as they may be eligible to receive assistance for walking aid devices.

With the safety tips above, the benefits of using a walker are immense. Growing older is a wonderful privilege not everyone is given. Those who are fortunate enough to live a long life deserve all the best there is. Walkers are fabulous mobility devices for the elderly because they provide two treasured gifts – mobility and independence. When operated safely and efficiently, the use of a walker is priceless.

Cheryl Jerabek

Cheryl Jerabek lives in a tiny remote town in Southwestern Colorado. She writes full-time from her cabin nestled in the mountains. She often expresses how lucky she feels to be able to do what she loves from a setting that looks like a postcard. When she’s not writing, Cheryl loves hanging out with her husband and two grown children, her dog, Joe, and adores spending time with her three grandchildren.

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