A walker can be an invaluable tool for seniors who are coming to grips with having less mobility than they used to.
If your loved one needs some help moving around, you should definitely be considering a walker as an option. But if the walker isn’t set up properly to work for the user, it can have a negative effect rather than a positive one.
One of the first things you need to know is how to determine the height of a walker. Setting the walker to the correct height for your loved one ensures that there’s no unnecessary fatigue, muscle aches, or chance of falling, and they’re properly supported by the frame at all times.
Here’s a quick and easy guide to figuring out the right height for your senior loved one’s walker so they can walk comfortably and pain-free.
How Tall Should a Walker Be?
There’s no standard height that’s “correct” for a walker. It all depends on the person using it. What’s correct for one won’t necessarily be appropriate for another!
The walker needs to be in the right range for your senior’s height, which you can find below. When they grip the walker, there should be a 20-degree bend in their arm. We know – this is difficult to measure!
Ultimately, the walker should be tall enough that the user can grip it with a bend in their elbow, but short enough that their shoulders can be relaxed.
Keep reading – we’ll explain exactly how to size the walker for your person further down!
Do Walkers Come In Different Heights?
Most walkers come in a variety of standard widths, but are adjustable for height. That being said, there are a few different categories into which walkers fit, so that people of all heights can have the most stable, safe experience.
- Junior: Adjustable to suit users between 4’8” and 5’2”.
- Standard: Adjustable to suit users between 5’3” and 5’11”.
- Tall: Adjustable to suit users between 5’11” and 6’4”.
- Bariatric: Weight-based, for users between 300 and 700lbs.
What Are the Dimensions of a Standard Walker?
The term “standard walker” can be a little deceiving. Some use it as a measure of the size of a walker, but it’s also used to describe the kind of walker frame that doesn’t have wheels on it (or only has front wheels).
The other type (called a rollator) usually has 3 or 4 wheels, handles, brakes, and even a seat in between the legs.
A standard sized, standard-type walker is between 32 and 40 inches in height. Typically, there’s some kind of adjustment so you can find the exact right height for you or your loved one.
They also come in various widths. Standard size is between 24 and 29 inches wide, although you can get narrower ones if your loved one is small and needs less space.
Take note that the user should be able to fit in between the legs of the walker. They shouldn’t have to lean forward and use the walker in front of them; instead they should be stepping into the space between the legs of the walker.
What is the Best Tall Walker for Seniors?
If your senior loved one is taller than average, you’ll most likely need to get a tall walker for them to be able to use it safely and comfortably.
If your loved one can handle a rollator, we recommend the Drive Medical Nitro Rollator in tall size. The handles come up to 41 inches, which is a full 2 inches higher than most others.
If your senior family member would prefer a standard frame walker, the OasisSpace Heavy Duty Folding Walker is a good choice. It adjusts up to 39 inches, and it’s extremely sturdy.
What To Look For When Adjusting Walkers
When adjusting the walker, here’s what you need to double-check to make sure it’s at the right height for your senior loved one.
The Height is Right
This is obviously important, and we’ve mentioned the height test up above. Do this before you even buy the walker, if possible!
Once the height is set, there should be no need to readjust it again. Make sure everything is tightened and safe so it stays at the adjusted height without slipping.
The Legs Are Even
It’s a good idea to adjust the walker on a flat surface that’s not bumpy or sloped. That way, you can make sure the legs are the same height.
If you’re standing on an uneven surface, you may inadvertently end up lowering one leg more than the other. It could seem to be straight, but in reality, it ends up wonky on flat ground.
Legs of different heights could be a safety hazard. Make sure they’re straight and even before handing the walker off to your loved one for use.
You won’t necessarily be able to see this, but you should definitely check if your loved one is comfortable with the height of their walker.
Their elbows should be slightly bent, shoulders relaxed. Double-check this with them before they start using it, and check in again after a few days to make sure they’re still comfy and happy.
How to Determine the Height of a Walker or Rollator
There’s a quick and easy test to find out if the height of a walker is right for the intended user.
- Get your senior loved one to stand up as straight as they can.
- Have them place their arms at their sides, hanging naturally.
- Place the walker in front of them.
- Step to the side and have a look.
Does the top of the walker frame or the walker handle line up with their wrist? If so, it’s the right height for them to use comfortably and safely.
If it’s around forearm level, it’s too high and needs to be adjusted down slightly. If it’s level with the palm or fingers, it’s too low and should be lifted a little.
This test does require that the intended user is there to do the test, though. If your loved one can’t be with you when you’re looking at walkers, then make sure you know their exact height before you go shopping.
Dividing their height by 2 should give you a fairly accurate indication of the height their walker should be.
Who Should Not Use a Rollator Walker?
Those who struggle to keep their balance or have weakness in the body while standing should opt for a standard walker frame instead of a rollator.
In addition, those who struggle to stand up and need the help of a walker to do so would find a standard walker much more stable for that purpose. How to Adjust Walker Height
Different walker models may have slight differences when it comes to adjustments, but the mechanics are roughly the same. Most of them use push pins that allow you to lift or lower the legs in increments of about an inch at a time. Some also include locking mechanisms for extra safety.
Your senior family member or friend may need someone to help with these adjustments, especially if they struggle to see the push pins or they have arthritis in their hands.
How to Use a Walker Correctly
Using a walker is fairly straightforward, but there are some specifics that may be helpful. Follow these tips for the safest, easiest use.
Bring the walker as close as you can to the chair. Push yourself up into a standing position from the chair – don’t try to lift yourself using the walker.
When you’re standing between the walker’s handles, firmly grasp the handles and push forward lightly. Step with your weaker leg first and take it slow!
Make sure the back legs of the walker are next to your legs. The walker should not be out in front of you. You should be inside the frame of the walker.
Don’t forget to look up and check where you’re going instead of staring at the ground the whole time! At the same time, you’ll need to check the ground for hazards as you’re moving forward.
This alternating between looking up and down may take some practice. But the more you use your walker, the easier it will get.
Take turns slowly. Try to move the walker a little at a time, and then adjust your feet and legs to match it. It’s not the best idea to lift the walker entirely off the ground and turn in mid-air! That leaves you no support if you lose your balance.
- Don’t attempt stairs with a walker.
- Remove loose rugs and other hazards in the house.
- Ensure the rubber tips on the walker legs are in good condition.
- Go slow on wet or smooth surfaces.
- Wear supportive, comfortable shoes!
Walker Height Chart
Learning how to determine the height of a walker is the best way to ensure that your loved one is comfortable and safe when using theirs.
Take some time to help them learn how to walk properly and safely. It could be the thing that gives them a new lease on life!