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Guide to Mobility Assistive Devices-Mobility Aids for Seniors

The following are mobility assistive devices for seniors available today. We all know assistive canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. In the first section, there are aids for seniors with reduced mobility after that there are devices for seniors who are unable to walk.

This guide will help you understand which device is the best for your particular situation. If you have permanently reduced mobility you may choose cane, walker, wheelchair or mobility scooter. But if you have temporary problems you may choose knee walker or crushers.

Mobility aids can improve mobility, even in cases where seniors might not be able to walk anymore. Using it can maximize seniors’ independence and promote activity. Let’s take a closer look at each type.

RELATED: Tips to improve walking.

Types of mobility Assistive devices

Mobility aids for Seniors with Reduced mobility

Mobility aids featured in this section can help those slightly affected due to a condition such as osteoarthritis or arthritis. They can be used inside or outside, usually are lightweight, foldable and easy to use.

Assistive cane

Canes are made to provide stability and compensate for small balance issues, they are not as stable as walkers. There are numerous types of assistive canes, but they can all be grouped as a single point and quad canes.

Single-point canes can have different types of handles and are commonly made of aluminum. A quad cane has a wider base with four points on the lowest part which makes it more stable. They are heavier and a little more complicated to manage. Quad canes are often used with individuals who suffer from paralyzed half of the body.

Mobility Walker

Mobility walkers for seniors are for those with notable stability problems but average upper body strength. Walkers are commonly made out of aluminum so they are light enough to be moved easily. Many of them can be foldable and adjustable.

They often have ease grips made of foam or rubber to increase the user’s comfort. Some have a front handle that pitches lower on the user’s side, which allows you to use it for leverage to pull yourself up from a chair or bed. The end of the legs is usually covered with rubber caps that are designed to prevent slipping.

They are much more supportive compared to crutches and canes but do take up more space while walking. While most of these walking accessories will have four legs, options with three are also available.

What are the different types of walkers? There are four types available, this includes basic, wheeled walker, rollator and knee walker.


Crutches are a pair of tall canes that should be placed underneath your arms. Crutches allow walking safely while keeping weight off the injured leg. They can be used as a single accessory or as a pair. When using both, weight is balanced equally between the two crutches and allows you to maintain balance.

Right use leads to notable energy expenditure and requires a significant amount of arm and shoulder strength. For this reason, they are normally not the best choice for the older population.

But in some cases, crutches can be very useful even for seniors. For instance, if you had a knee replacement you should use it for the first few days following the procedure.

So, what types of crutches are there? Commonly, there are four different types of crutches like underarm, forearm, platform, and leg support crutches. You should choose the type depending on your mobility problems.

Orthopedic mobility aids

Orthopedic aids are often used in recovery from injury or to help ease the pain. They range from knee braces, braces for the back and spine, elbow supports, ankle braces to cervical neck collars and shoulder braces. Most are made from breathable fabrics that offer excellent compression support, however, there might be some skin irritation or swelling.

Mobility aids for Seniors who are Unable to walk

These mobility aids are for those who live with a disability and can’t move around without assistance. In general, we can divide these into different kinds of wheelchairs and mobility scooters.


A wheelchair is a mobility aid for people who are unable to walk safely on their own, as well as for cases when it is critical to avoid putting pressure on the lower limbs. This mobility aid features a chair-like structure, where you can sit in, with four wheels that allow you to move around.

How many types of wheelchairs are there? Well, there are numerous different types of wheelchairs to choose from and just as many deviations in the needs of wheelchair users. It is essential to carefully think about what your needs are and how different chair models can meet them.

First, there are manual or power wheelchair. Second, there are many different types of it, like an ergonomic or ultra-light wheelchair which gives increased stability, better weight distribution and reduce the risk of spinal injury and pressure sores.

There are reclining wheelchairs, which enable a reclined position, that can help take the pressure off hip and back injuries.

If you need a wheelchair that can support more weight there are also bariatric chairs.

Mobility Scooter

A mobility scooter has a seat and three or four wheels, sometimes a flat area for the feet, and handlebars in front to turn the steerable wheels. They are usually more affordable than powered wheelchairs.

There are two types, front or rear-wheel drive. The front-wheel drive scooter is usually a smaller device and is best used indoors. Indoor scooter is usually portable and lightweight, easily foldable and not recommended for everyday use.

Rear-wheel drive scooter is used both indoors and outdoors. The outdoor version offers longer-range and more battery durability, these are recommended for seniors that anticipate a lot of outdoor usage. There are are also heavy-duty options, which can carry up to larger weight.

Comparisons/what and when is the best?

Cane vs. Walker

Before making a choice between walkers vs canes you should evaluate exactly how much of your body weight do you need to support.

Canes can hold up to 25 percent of your bodyweight whereas walkers can support up to 50 percentage. If you have mild balance problems and experience the pain on one side of hips or knees the cane might be the right for you.

On the other hand, if you have balance problems and experience the pain on both sides of the hips or knees you should choose the walker.
When choosing between walkers vs assistive canes, it is recommended to consult with a medical professional before making any decisions.

Knee Walker vs. Crutches

For elderly people with mobility issues after surgery, a knee walker may be the better choice because they don’t require any upper body strength to use. With walkers, there’s less worry of slipping on smooth surfaces.

One of the main drawbacks to choosing a knee walker is that they’re more expensive than a simple pair of crutches. Also, knee walkers cannot be used on stairways, which may be a problem for some people.

But crutches allow for a neutral position of the back. They’re also easy to travel with, more than with the walker, which makes them a great option for people who are always on the go.

Walker vs. Wheelchair

The right choice between walker and wheelchair depends on what your capabilities are.

Mobility walker might be recommended if you can walk by yourself but feel that you need additional support for balance on both sides of your body. If you have good arm and hand function to move the walker forward while walking. If you find that you are continuously holding onto the walls and furniture for the support think of walker.

On the other hand, a wheelchair is advisable when you are no longer able to walk functional distances independently in a safe way, meaning that you cannot go from point A to point B without getting too exhausted or experiencing increased fear of falling.

Electric Wheelchair vs. Mobility scooter

This comparison between the electric wheelchair and the mobility scooter will help you understand the differences between the two. The right choice of mobility aid depends on how you are planning to use it and what are your needs.

Scooter is useful for seniors with systemic or whole-body disabling conditions who are still able to stand and walk a few steps. Mobility scooters are usually for those who have minor mobility issues.

A wheelchair usually offers more support and features to help you if you have posture issues. Electric wheelchairs are usually far more costly than mobility scooters but they are also more comfortable.

If you need to transport it, the scooter can be folded up to fit in a trunk or a back seat. Most electric wheelchairs do not fold or are heavy.

An electric scooter is steered with handlebars, whereas electric wheelchairs use a joystick. A wheelchair might be easier to control if you have issues with upper-body mobility.

What’s next?

Many older people find it hard to move around independently. It is essential that seniors get themselves some sort of walking assistance device if they are unstable performing motions like sitting down, getting up or walking.

It is advisable that they talk to their healthcare provider before they decide to make a choice. Make sure to check these tips for improving mobility.

I am sure you use some home modification, like rails, shower chairs, grab handles or stairlift. With these simple devices, you can decrease the chances of falling in your home.

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