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The best walker for seniors of 2024 according to therapists, nurses and other health care professionals

The best walker for seniors of 2024 according to therapists, nurses and other health care professionals

If every step feels like a gamble, and you're tired of feeling unsteady, a walker might be the solution you've been searching for. The reality is, when arthritis flares up, injury recovery is slow or balance starts to waver, moving around can become a daunting task. However, mobility challenges are common and affect millions of people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 1 in 10 Americans have a severe mobility disability that hinders their ability to walk or climb stairs, with many more experiencing milder mobility problems that complicate everyday life.

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Navigating mobility challenges can be tough, but the right walker can restore your freedom and peace of mind. David Chandler, vice president of clinical services and business development at Senior Helpers, says, "It's important to recognize and pay attention to the signs that indicate when a walker might be beneficial." This may include difficulty standing up, unsteadiness, increased fatigue, difficulty performing simple tasks like getting dressed and recent falls or near falls. If this sounds all too familiar, it may be time to consider a walker to give you a sense of security and independence, reduce the risk of falls and help you stay physically active.

Evaluating the many walker options can be overwhelming. To help you make an informed choice, we spoke with multiple medical professionals, including physical therapists and senior care experts, to learn their recommendations for the best walkers for seniors and to identify the most important features and benefits. We used these insights and in-depth research to compile a list of the top walkers for seniors in 2024.

Cost: $168 | Weight capacity: 300 lbs | Height: Adjustable | Type of walker: Rollator | Brakes: Yes | Extra features: Adjustable handles, adjustable memory foam seat, backrest, cupholder, storage

The Medline Premium Empower Rollator Walker lives up to its name, empowering you to move easily and confidently. With nearly 60 years of experience producing top-quality medical supplies, Medline delivers a stand-out walker, with 86% of Amazon buyers giving it at least four out of five stars.

Packed with all the features you could want, this walker has an adjustable memory foam seat, a spacious storage bag and a convenient cup holder. The supportive backrest ensures you can rest comfortably whenever needed. Its larger-than-standard wheels make navigating rough terrain a breeze. An Amazon reviewer wrote, "My mom has no trouble maneuvering this walker, and even when used on grass and uneven surfaces, it has never tipped — a huge plus since she’s dependent on it to get around."

While some reviewers note it's rather heavy to lift into a car, others disagree, saying, "It folds nicely and fits easily in the trunk."

Assembly might require some effort, but the result is a reliable, comfortable, highly functional walker with robust construction and versatile features.

Pros
  • Large storage bag and cup holder
  • Adjustable handles and backrest
  • Folds flat for storage
Cons
  • Some say it's difficult to assemble
  • May be too heavy for some
$169 at Amazon
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$169 at Walmart

Cost: $158 | Weight capacity: 300 lbs | Height: Adjustable | Type of walker: Rollator | Brakes: Yes | Extra features: Storage seat, backrest, storage bag, foldable, swivel wheels, brake lock

The nearly 4,500 five-star Amazon reviews don't lie. This walker has everything: a padded seat and backrest, storage space and a reliable braking system to protect you from falls. Plus, its foldable design caters to an active lifestyle. You can quickly collapse and store it in your car when you're on the go.

At 18 pounds, it's not the lightest option on this list, but it's still manageable for most. It also boasts an impressive weight capacity of 300 pounds with adjustable handlebars to accommodate heights up to 6'2".

"I'm impressed with the frame, has a premium solid feel, but not heavy. Seat is comfortable and the backrest is nicely padded and comfortable as well." wrote one Amazon reviewer

Pros
  • Foldable
  • Padded seat
  • Large storage compartment
Cons
  • Heavier than other options
  • May be difficult to fit in smaller spaces
$158 at Amazon
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$158 at Walmart$280 at Walgreens

Cost: $40 | Weight capacity: 350 lbs | Height: Adjustable | Type of walker: Two-wheeled | Brakes: No | Extra features: Aluminum frame, contoured hand grips, rear glide caps, push-button folding

This folding walker is your go-to choice if you're looking for simplicity and reliability without breaking the bank. While it doesn't come loaded with extras, it excels in essential functionality, making it perfect for budget-conscious buyers.

This walker has an impressive 350-pound weight capacity, outperforming many pricier models. The two-button folding mechanism is incredibly user-friendly, allowing easy maneuverability and quick stowing. However, it's worth mentioning that individuals with limited hand strength might find the push-button feature a bit challenging.

Despite its minimalist design, the Drive Medical walker proves you don't need all the bells and whistles to get solid support and convenience. It's a straightforward, effective solution for those seeking quality on a budget.

Although it lacks a storage compartment, its practicality and durability make it a perfect choice for those needing a reliable yet economical mobility aid. Amazon reviewers give this walker high marks, with nearly 93% of 35,500 ratings at or above four stars.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Handles multiple terrain types
Cons
  • No storage compartment
  • Push button may be difficult for those with limited hand strength
$34 at Lowe's
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$34 at Amazon$40 at Walmart

Cost: $61 | Weight capacity: 300 lbs | Height: Adjustable | Type of walker: Rollator | Brakes: Yes | Extra features: Removable back support, padded seat, adjustable handles, under-seat storage pouch

This rollator-style walker is an Amazon bestseller with almost 45,000 five-star ratings, of which 91% are four stars or above. As if that wasn't enough to convince you, it's also priced much lower than comparable walkers with similar features.

We love this option's steel frame, which gives it superior durability. It also folds to save space in the car. The removable back support, padded seat and adjustable handles make it one of our top picks.

"The maneuverability of this rollator is great!" said one Amazon reviewer. "Adjustable handle height, easy fold-up and ergonomic squeeze brakes makes this a well-designed tool for anyone with mobility issues."

Other reviewers noted the sturdy construction and ease of use. However, some felt the seat wasn't quite wide enough for their liking.

Pros
  • Foldable
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Limited assembly required
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Seat not wide enough for some
  • Can't access storage while sitting
$60 at Amazon
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$60 at Walmart$60 at Lowe's

Cost: $180 | Weight capacity: 250 lbs | Height: Adjustable | Type of walker: Rollator | Brakes: Yes | Extra features: Foldable, large zippered storage pouch, storage basket, basket tray, slip-proof hand grips

This folding walker could be a game-changer for travel enthusiasts needing extra support when maneuvering through busy airports, exploring new cities or enjoying nature.

While four-wheeled walkers can be cumbersome and hard to transport, this three-wheeled option provides the perfect blend of functionality and portability. The Nova Traveler doesn’t sacrifice maneuverability either — its design allows you to move smoothly through crowded areas and tight spaces.

The large zippered storage pouch and wire basket with tray give you plenty of room to keep your belongings nearby. The hand grips are slip-proof, and the locking brakes provide added safety when standing in place. As a bonus, this walker folds with the storage bag in place and stands upright on its own.

Customers rave about the Nova Traveler's durability and ease of use, noting that it's ideal for travel. "It's super maneuverable around furniture and in crowded spaces, breaks down easily to put in your vehicle and is a snap to open." one five-star Amazon reviewer said. "The larger wheels are a big help in getting over thresholds, uneven sidewalks and grassy areas," said another. More than 91% of reviewers agree, giving it four or five stars.

Pros
  • All-terrain wheels
  • Stands upright when folded
  • Comes fully assembled
Cons
  • No seat
  • Only suitable for users up to 250 lbs
$180 at Amazon

Cost: $96 | Weight capacity: 400 lbs | Height: Adjustable | Type of walker: Two-wheeled | Brakes: No | Extra features: Foldable, self-standing, padded handles, multiple color options

According to the manufacturer, this space-saving option folds four times smaller than the average walker. It weighs only eight pounds yet can support a body weight of up to 400 pounds (the highest weight capacity on our list). While it's not a traditional rollator, it has two front wheels to make it easier to maneuver.

Since it's so compact and light, you can easily transport it in your car, take it on trips or store it just about anywhere. We love that it comes fully assembled to save your fingers and sanity.

"It collapses and opens with ease," says one five-star Amazon reviewer. "It's lightweight but very stable and durable. The handles are comfortable to grip."

The compact design makes it perfect for those living in smaller apartments or with limited storage space. While it has no built-in storage compartment, you can purchase accessories like a cup holder, basket or trolley tray.

Pros
  • Compact
  • Comes fully assembled
  • Accessories can be purchased separately
Cons
  • No storage compartment
  • Fixed wheel design may not be as maneuverable
$96 at Amazon
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$96 at Walmart$110 at Walgreens

Cost: $190 | Weight capacity: 300 lbs | Height: Adjustable | Type of walker: Rollator | Brakes: Yes | Extra features: Foldable, padded seat, backrest, adjustable handles, brake lock

Gravel, stone, grass, dirt — you name it, this walker is the ideal outdoor companion. The OasisSpace Rollator Walker features large pneumatic wheels that can easily tackle any surface. The sturdy frame can support up to 300 pounds, and the handles offer five inches of adjustment to fit a range of heights.

It's built for all-terrain use and folds easily for running errands or daily activities. It also has a padded seat, a supportive backrest and a hand brake lock for peace of mind.

One Amazon reviewer says, "The pneumatic wheels and the robust design make walks in the park an everyday reality, where before we were restricted to only level ground."

Other customers appreciate the finish and build of the walker and the company's excellent customer service. However, some users may find it too bulky due to its large wheels, and some also report problems with tires that flatten easily.

Pros
  • Sturdy
  • Smooth handling on all terrains
  • Can be made narrower to fit through doorways
Cons
  • Large wheels may be bulky for some users
$190 at Amazon

Depending on your needs, there are several types of walkers to choose from. Consider the following common options:

  • Standard walker: This is the most basic and traditional type of walker. It has four legs with rubber caps to provide stability while walking. Because it doesn't have wheels, you must lift the walker with each step, which can become tiring or challenging over time.

  • Two-wheeled walker: Similar to a standard walker, a two-wheeled walker has two front wheels for easier maneuverability. It's best if you can partially support your weight and have good balance.

  • Three-wheeled walker: As the name suggests, this type has two back wheels and one front wheel, somewhat like a tricycle. It's typically narrower to make it easier to move around in tight spaces but may not be as stable as four-wheeled options.

  • Rollator: Considered the most advanced type of walker, a rollator has four wheels and usually includes extra features like a seat, backrest and hand brakes. It may be easier to use because you don't have to lift and lower it with each step, but it's not without its own potential drawbacks. Chandler says, "Walkers with wheels can roll unexpectedly, making it harder to control and they might get stuck on things like cracks or rugs, which could cause a trip and fall." He advises only using a rollator after having proper training and being comfortable with its use.

  • Knee walker: Also known as a knee scooter, this device has a padded platform to rest an injured or recovering leg. It's designed for conditions that prevent you from using one of your legs, such as a broken ankle or foot. It's often used as an alternative to crutches.

  • Hemi walker: Designed for people with limited mobility on one side of the body, this style of walker has a wider base on one side to provide more stability while walking.

It's crucial to choose a walker that provides stability and balance while walking. If you have pretty good balance, a two or three-wheeled walker may be exactly what you need. However, if you need more support or have trouble with balance, a standard walker without wheels or a rollator (with proper training) may be better.

Standard walkers don't have wheels, so they require you to lift and move the walker with each step. For stability purposes, this can be great, but depending on your overall health, it may be tiring or overly challenging, particularly for all-day use.

On the other hand, rollators have four wheels and require less upper body strength, making them ideal if your strength is limited or if your balance challenges are more distinct. They also usually have a seat and backrest, so you can rest when you feel fatigued. The hand brake also provides an extra layer of stability when navigating inclines or declines, or if you want to lean on your walker for more support while standing still.

It ultimately is a personal decision whether a wheeled or unwheeled walker is the better choice for you. "Wheels are easier to maneuver, but a walker without wheels offers more stability," says Devin Trachman, clinic director at Physical Therapy Central. Trachman advises giving thought to your balance and strength needs before purchasing.

"The best way to know whether a walker will offer you the stability and support you need is to try it out — give it a trial walk and see how it feels," she says. It's also important to read the reviews and recommendations on walkers based on users with similar mobility limitations. "Often, feedback from others can provide significant insight or point you in the right direction."

The amount of weight each walker can support differs based on design and construction. Generally, a standard walker can support 250 to 350 pounds, while some rollators can hold up to 500 pounds. Trachman says that it's essential to double-check the weight capacity before purchasing and consider any items you plan to transport with the walker, such as a bag or oxygen tank, as these add more weight to the walker's frame.

"It's important not to exceed the weight limit of a walker as it can compromise the structural integrity of the walker, increasing the risk of accidents or injuries," she says.

If you need something with a higher weight capacity, a few options support up to 800 pounds. Talk to your health care provider or a physical therapist to determine the best weight capacity for your needs.

Not all walkers are created equal. Some have fixed heights, meaning you can't adjust them to fit your body. A poorly fitted walker can lead to neck and back pain and may even increase your risk of falls.

"The height adjustment of a walker affects its use and effectiveness by helping the user achieve proper body alignment, walk with optimal form, increase safety and stability and use energy efficiently," says Trachman.

Models with adjustable handles usually have buttons or pins you press to slide the handles up or down. Read the manufacturer’s guidelines to learn how to properly adjust the walker for your height. And if needed, consult with your doctor or physical therapist to make sure your walker is correctly fitted for your stature.

If you plan to use your walker at home and outside, consider purchasing a model that folds easily for storage and transport. Standard walkers are smaller than rollators and don't have wheels to fold, so they are easier to store and transport. However, many rollators also fold up easily.

Also, consider the weight of each model if you aim to transport it frequently. A lighter option weighing less than 10 pounds, like the Able Life Space Saver Roller Walker, may be best if you need something highly portable. Rollators have larger dimensions and usually weigh more, often up to 20 pounds. If you have the physical strength or the assistance from a friend or family member to lift and transport a heavier walker, this may not be an issue. But if regularly maneuvering a 20-pound walker is going to be a challenge, it's likely best to stick with a lighter option.

Most rollators come equipped with hand brakes to help you slow down or stop when needed. Standard walkers without wheels do not have braking systems, so you’ll need to lift and move the walker with each step. Some rollators also have a parking brake for an extra layer of protection when sitting or standing in place.

"Brakes are particularly important for people who rely on their walkers for balance and support," says Christopher Norman, a geriatric nurse practitioner with the National Council on Aging. "Brakes help control the walker on slopes or uneven ground and can lock the walker in place when needed, like when stopping to rest or sit."

When considering braking options, keep in mind your hand strength and dexterity. If you have limited hand function, look for models that offer easier-to-use brakes or allow for adjustments to accommodate your needs.

The cost of walkers ranges from about $30 to over $500, depending on the brand, features and accessories. High-end rollators with advanced features, or bariatric models with higher weight capacities cost more than standard, no-frill models. Consider your budget and which features are most important when making a purchase. Remember to factor in any additional accessories or attachments that may be useful for your needs, such as extra storage or a cup holder.

To select the best walkers we first consulted with physical therapists, geriatricians and other health care professionals specializing in mobility aids. Their expertise helped us narrow the list of walkers by focusing on critical aspects such as ergonomics, safety features and suitability for different mobility levels and strengths. Their insights also helped us understand each product’s potential benefits and limitations.

We then analyzed customer reviews and feedback. Understanding the experiences and opinions of real users provides an invaluable perspective on each walker’s overall quality and effectiveness. We carefully considered both positive and negative reviews to get a well-rounded view of each product. We also paid close attention to comments about durability, ease of use and stability.

After hours of reviewing and assessing some of the most popular models and pulling together expert opinions and customer feedback to create a list of the best walkers on the market, we narrowed down our list of the best walkers for seniors based on their features, performance and overall value.

"Walkers benefit those with mobility issues by providing support and stability, reducing the risk of falls," explains Brittany Ferri, an occupational therapist with the National Council on Aging.

"They allow those who cannot walk without help to be more independent and safe, and they promote a more upright walking posture — as long as they are adjusted correctly," says Ferri. This helps alleviate strain on the back and legs commonly caused by poor walking posture.

"Using the wrong height can lead to poor posture and strain on the body, especially on the back and arms," says Norman, who explains that a health care professional can help you determine the best height for your walker. "A good rule of thumb is that when you’re standing as straight as you can with your arms outstretched and hands on the walker, there should be a slight bend in your elbows," says Norman. "This will help you gauge how close or far to stand when using your walker."

Most experts recommend against using a walker on stairs, as it increases the risk of falls. Some walkers are more cumbersome to maneuver, adding to the danger. A cane or stair lift may be safer if you have stairs in your home.

A walker is typically a lightweight frame with four legs and no wheels. Its design requires you to lift and place the walker in front of you with each step. On the other hand, a rollator has four wheels that move without lifting or dragging the frame. It also has handlebars with hand brakes for added stability and control when walking. Rollators are often easier to maneuver but have more safety concerns than standard walkers.

Every insurance plan is different. Many plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover the cost of a walker if your doctor deems it medically necessary. However, in some cases, your plan may only cover the rental of a walker, not the outright purchase. Private insurance may also have specific criteria for coverage, such as requiring a prescription or a specific medical condition. If you’re in the market for a walker, call your insurance company or Medicare/Medicaid to learn more about your coverage options and requirements.

  • Devin Trachman, clinic director at Physical Therapy Central

  • David Chandler, vice president of Clinical Services and Business Development at Senior Helpers

  • Brittany Ferri, an occupational therapist with the National Council on Aging

  • Christopher Norman, a geriatric nurse practitioner with the National Council on Aging