In considering how to choose a rollator it is a good idea to review the available options and accessories before deciding which to purchase.
There is currently a wide array of rollators in the marketplace each with different features and it can become quite overwhelming to wade through all this information. This article will guide you on features to check to suit personal needs and living space.
When selecting the best rollator consider your needs and living space. Four-wheel rollators are generally available in two options. These are a standard rollator or a bariatric rollator
Assuming there are no major medical conditions (refer to a previous article How to Choose a Rollator. Benefits For These Medical Conditions), check the the following important features. These include the intended lifestyle use (indoors or outdoors), navigability – moving through narrow areas, and weight of the rollator if frequent transportation will be required.
Other features to consider are the adjustability of the rollator seat height and handlebars and brakes.
How To Choose a Rollator – Intended Lifestyle Use
Do you plan to use the rollator only indoors or wish to also use it outside? If you plan to use the rollator on outside terrain, a more durable design is required. Such designs usually have larger tires (8 to 10 inches in size) to provide stability not only inside but over the rougher, uneven terrain outside while many brands have tires that do not accumulate dirt on them and bring them into the home.
These heavy-duty rollators will have hand brakes, a seat to accommodate rest stops, and in many cases a storage space to keep personal items or other supplies. Bear in mind that as the lifestyle use requirement becomes more specialised, the more expensive the rollator becomes because of the added features and safety considerations.
A Range of Specialized Rollator Choices
LifeWalker UpWalker Lite Folding Rolling Upright Mobility Walker – Weighs Only 15.5 lbs
The UPWalker Lite addresses the deficiencies of conventional walkers, including fall risk, slouching, and lack of user confidence and comfort.
Unlike walkers that force you to hunch over putting painful pressure on your wrists and back, the UPWalker Lite is designed to support you in a secure upright position giving you better posture so you have more confidence and less pain.
Ergoactives Roller-GO Double Foldable Rollator Walker with Forearm Support
The Roller-GO folds both vertically and horizontally at the push of a button. According to the manufacturer, it is the only one in the market with ergonomic padded forearm support.
This makes it easy to transport. It adds comfort, balance, and more safety for walking purposes.
There is more legroom than traditional rollators specially where the user’s legs are when walking with the rollator.
In-Step Mobility U-Step 2 Foldable Walking Stabilizer with Press Down Brakes
The U-Step 2 was created to increase independence. It has a patented U-shaped base and this ultra-stable foundation protects every direction.
It is not like pushing a typical walker because the U-Step 2 surrounds its user and moves with them. This creates a feeling of stability as if holding onto another person’s arm.
The innovative braking system is easy to use. The U-Step 2 will not roll unless the user is ready to walk. When the user lightly squeezes either brake release lever, the unit will rbegin to roll as they move.
Once the lever is released, the unit will stop immediately. This feature is particularly helpful when standing up from a chair because the unit will not roll away.
If the living space is small, a three-wheel rollator is recommended.
These models are more lightweight than the Standard rollator and are very convenient for navigating small and narrow spaces because they are easy to maneuver around furniture and corners.
Adjustable Seat and Handlebars
To get the most comfortable design for your body, rollators that are adjustable are beneficial. These rollators enable adjustment of the seat height and handlebars to provide a custom fit to the body frame.
These adjustments must be made correctly to provide safe and stable movement for seniors or the elderly using the rollator.
The height of the seat at ground level allows for safe, easy sitting and rising in the rollator while the right handle height allows users to grip the rollator handles best.
Seat Options – How To Choose A Rollator
There may be padded or unpadded seats depending on the rollator design. The padded seat option provides greater comfort especially over rough terrain, while, unpadded seats are extra stable and easier to clean.
Most rollators have brakes on the handles to provide extra safety and the ability to stop and go at will. There are two types. The loop break or a push-down brake.
Many seniors have little difficulty using the loop brake. The exception is those with severe arthritis.
On the other hand, the push-down brake is a better option for seniors and the elderly who have hand dexterity issues.
How To Choose a Rollator – Weight Capacity
A Standard rollator is usually considered as lightweight at approximately 6.8 kg (15 lbs). The maximum weight it can support is approximately 114 – 137 kg (250 – 300 lbs), depending on the brand.
For weights over this threshold, heavy-duty Bariatric rollators that can support weights from 159 – 318 kg (350 – 700 lbs) depending on the brand are recommended. They also have lower seats to allow for easy standing and sitting without placing too much pressure on the feet.
Rollators that come with a collapsible feature are called folding rollators as they collapse in the middle, allowing for a flatter and more compact frame. This is good for transporting them from home to car or bus and more conveniently onto airplanes.
How To Choose a Rollator – Selecting Accessories
Rollator and walker accessories allow individuals to customize them to their specific needs, and provide added comfort, safety and independence of the senior or elderly. Some rollators already come with certain accessories such as a storage basket, but many accessories are sold separately. Most accessories are better suited to rollators, although a few like the pouch and oxygen tank carrier may be used with most walker types. Typically the pouch attaches to the front of a walker or attaches to the back of a rollator,
Certain rollator brands allow the upgrade of different parts, like handles with a better grip or a larger seat. Some accessories are reviewed below by category, while a seperate upcoming article provides a more comprehensive discussion.
- A basket walker caddy is usually a plastic 5 inch-deep carrying container that fits inside the walker’s handles, allowing the user to carry items from room to room without hindering the user’s hands.
- The Storage basket offers a convenient area to place items when shopping or traveling while using the walker.
- Organizer pouch – This pouch will hold and secure personal items within its pockets so the user does not have to use a hand to carry any items
Feeding Related Accessories
- Cup or cane holder- This assists the user to transport a cane or a cup while using the rollator. In the event, they encounter places where a walker may not fit they can shift to using the cane to move about
- Drinking system device –Allows the user to carry the liquid in a back carrying-case, and to drink the liquid by biting and sucking on the mouthpiece from the drinking system without spilling
- Walker tray –This is a tray that attaches to the walker. The tray provides extra carrying space to carry drinks and personal items from room to room or to be used as a stable working surface.
How To Choose a Rollator – Miscellaneous
- Rollator light accessory – This is a flashlight that attaches to a rolling-walker, helping to safely light the way of the user in darkened areas. Some light accessories will turn on/off utilizing a motion sensor, keeping it a hands-free device.
- Oxygen tank holder – Usually used for C and/or D oxygen tanks, the oxygen tank holder allows the walker user to carry and use oxygen while using the rollator
- Walker hand pads – Hand pads can come in different materials, but the reason for the hand pads is to reduce hand discomfort and to help wick away sweat from the palms when gripping a walker.
For seniors and the elderly, knowing how to choose a rollator when changes in balance and overall mobility begin to set in. Rollators will greatly enhance the quality of life and independence but knowing the features to consider is important.
Arizona Center for Aging (2015) Elder Care – Choosing the Correct Walker https://nursingandhealth.asu.edu/sites/default/files/walkers.pdf
Seniors Mobility (2021) What Is a Rollator? Complete Guide to Types, Benefits, Safety & More https://seniorsmobility.org/getting-around/walkers/what-is-a-rollator/
The Chair Expert (2021) Best 4 Wheel Rollator Walker With Seat 
January 8, 2021 https://www.thechairexpert.com/best-4-wheel-rollator-walker-with-seat-for-seniors/
Gell, N.M. et al (2016) Mobility Device Use Among Older Adults and Incidence of Falls and Worry About Falling: Findings From the 2011–2012 National Health and Aging Trends Study (NIH.gov) J Am Geriatr Soc 63(5): 853–859.