The rollator is a popular walking aid. Also called a rolling walker or by the number of wheels it has—either a 3- or 4-wheel rollator, it usually consists of a metal frame with wheels, handles where the brakes are located and, in many designs, a seat for resting and a basket or pouch for storing a water bottle or other personal items.
The purpose of a rollator is to help you walk as well as lessen your risk of falling. Research shows that using a rollator can help you walk better and longer, keeping you more active and independent—important for your overall health and the health of your heart and your muscles. By the same token, you need a certain amount of lower body strength and the ability to walk along with it, albeit with its help and support.
Unlike a walker that needs to be lifted up and down, a rollator doesn’t require as much upper body strength. But because there is a wheel on the end of each leg, you must have enough hand strength and awareness to use the hand braking system correctly. (Experts advise always parking a rollator against a wall in case you forget to apply the brakes.) If not a walker may be the safer choice.
With dozens of models to choose from, it’s important to have a good sense of your abilities as well as the rollator’s features. Start by selecting a model compatible with the following criteria:
- Rollator weight capacity: Be sure your weight will be safely supported by the rollator’s seat; check the weight capacity.
- Rollator handle height: The floor-to-handle height should adjust to your height to ensure that you won’t have to hunch over the rollator when walking. Note: When handle height is properly set, your elbows should be slightly bent. To find the best floor-to-handle height measurement for you, stand straight with your arms at your sides and have someone measure the distance from your wrist to the ground.
- Rollator seat width: The width of the seat should be wide enough to ensure your comfort when sitting down.
- Overall rollator width: Be sure that the rollator will fit through the doorways and hallways in your home.
There are a number of designs to choose from. A 3-wheel rollator may be easier to maneuver and can be a good choice if you don’t need to rest when you’re out and about with your rollator. The 3-wheel rollators are typically more triangular in shape and don’t have a seat. Many are lighter than a 4-wheel rollator and take up less space when folded, making them ideal for travel. The Winnie Walker Deluxe Three Wheel Rollator is a lightweight rollator from Drive Medical with 7.5" wheels for indoor or outdoor use. It comes standard with a carry pouch and adjustable handle height. The special loop lock made of internal aluminum casting operates easily and ensures safety.
A 4-wheel rollator with a seat makes it possible for you to walk longer distances because you can stop to rest as needed. In addition to looking for sturdier designs that will support your weight, you might want a well-padded seat and a padded backrest for more comfort when sitting.
Beyond function, today’s rollators come in bright colors and some feature pouches made of patterned material, making it possible to find a rollator that is stylish as well as useful.