There is no definitive answer or methodology or test to determine whether or not a senior, or anyone for that matter, may need a walker. It all depends on individual circumstances and needs, but several common scenarios will often suggest that it’s time for you to consider using a walker.
A walker is a device that is designed to help you walk. Normally, it’s only when a person finds themself in a place where walking or keeping their balance has become an issue, that they realize they do need a walker.
If you’re facing any issues that make walking a challenge, using a walker will allow you to cover longer distances on foot and reduces the risk of falling and seriously injuring yourself.
Some seniors are hesitant to use a walker, as they don’t want to be seen as dependent on a walking aid, but in reality, using a walker can help you feel more independent and improve your self-confidence.
It is important to bear in mind that even once you start using a walker, you shouldn’t feel obliged to use it all the time, though it is always better to have one handy just in case you do need a walker.
It is also vital that you don’t put off buying a walker – either because you don’t want to spend the money or because you think using one will make you feel or look old. Begin using an adequate walking aid as soon as you feel you can benefit from using one. Waiting until you are forced into using a walker (after a serious accident, for example) is a bad idea and is a mistake a surprisingly large number of people make.
With all of this in mind, here are some common reasons why a senior may need a walker to help with their mobility.
You Don’t Have The Strength You Once Had
As you age, particularly after 55, you incrementally lose more and more of your strength with every passing year, making tasks that were previously effortless seem strenuous and challenging to perform. Such tasks include everyday things that you could do without any difficulty for most of your life, like going for a short walk or being able to get up after sitting down.
The persistent and generalized loss of muscle mass and thus strength can be caused by Sarcopenia, a syndrome prevalent in older adults, and this can begin as early as your late 30s to early 40s.
Many middle-aged adults and seniors give in and lead less active lifestyles pretty much as soon as they start experiencing reduced strength. Decisions like this can compound the issue and can lead to your needing a walker sooner than necessary.
You’re Recovering From an Illness
You may need a walker if you’re recovering from a recent illness. Walkers can help seniors improve their mobility and perform some amount of physical activity after being hospitalized for a serious illness, such as a stroke. Getting some exercise while using a walker allows patients to rebuild their muscle mass and strength gradually, so walkers can be a very important tool in the rehabilitation process.
You Don’t Have The Endurance Once Did
With age, we typically experience a significant drop off in our endurance every year. This can eventually reach the point where we struggle even with short walks down the road or walking from a car to our homes. Using a walker can be a great way to conserve your limited energy and help you walk for a much greater distance, which in turn may help improve your endurance over time.
Aside from being a normal occurrence that comes with aging, some people may experience a profound loss of endurance for many other reasons, including heart disease or ailments, which affect your breathing.
You’ve Lost Weight-Bearing Capacity
Many seniors’ legs are unable to support their entire body-weight.
Alternatively, even if their legs are strong enough to carry their full weight, a walker can still help improve one’s weight-bearing capacity if, for example, they experience leg pain as a result of the load applied to their legs when walking unaided.
Walkers improve your weight-bearing capacity by reducing the weight exerted on your legs when you press down on the frame of the walker and therefore split your weight between the walker and your legs. Rollators and walkers, especially upright walkers, can also help you improve your posture, which in turn increases the weight-bearing capacity of your legs.
You Easily Lose Your Balance
Our balance takes a hit as we age. We typically become more at risk for falling and injuring ourselves as we get older. By providing the user with a broader base of support, walkers can help you with your balance and thus reduce the risk of you falling over, allowing you to feel more confident about going for a stroll while giving your family peace of mind.
Some types of walkers and individual models are better at supporting your balance than others – and this also stands true for all of the other points listed above – so it is imperative you know what you’re looking to achieve from buying a walker.