How to Choose and Use a Walker
What is it? A walker is a three-sided metal frame with four legs. You may need to use a walker because your legs are not strong enough to walk without support. You may also need to use a walker if you are weak or have balance problems.
How do I choose a walker? Your caregiver will help you choose the walker that is right for you. Be sure the walker has rubber grips for the hands. Make sure it has nonskid rubber tips or wheels to keep you from sliding. You can buy walkers at medical supply stores.
- There are many kinds of walkers. Selecting the best walker may depend upon your health problem and where you plan to use the walker. Decide if you need a walker for indoor use, outdoor use, or both. Some walkers have a lightweight metal frame that is easy to lift as you walk. The front legs of the walker frame may have wheels to help you move easier. Other walkers have a heavy metal frame and are pushed forward with each step. These walkers usually have four sturdy wheels and may have hand brakes.
- Walkers may come with different parts. Most walkers can be adjusted to make them taller or shorter. Some walkers have built in seats. Some walkers can be folded for travel or storage. A metal basket can be attached to many walkers. A basket can hold the things you want to take with you, such as a purse or book.
How do I use the walker? Your caregiver will teach you how to use the walker. If you cannot reach your walker by yourself, ask someone to help you. The following steps will help you use your walker.
Getting up from a chair:
- Put the walker in front of your chair and slide forward in the chair.
- With your hands on the arms of the chair, slowly stand up.
- Firmly grasp the handles of the walker.
- Move forward into the walker.
- Stand with your walker until you feel balanced and ready to walk.
- When you are ready to walk, move the walker forward about one footstep ahead of you. Make sure it is firmly set on the ground before you step forward.
- Firmly grasp the handles. Take one step forward. Continue to take small steps. Do not put the walker too far in front of you as you walk.
- Stand with your back to the chair. Make sure the backs of your legs touch the chair.
- Set the walker firmly on the floor in front of you.
- If one leg is weaker than the other, slide the weaker leg slightly in front of you. Hold the walker handles firmly and put all your weight on your stronger leg.
- Keep one hand on the walker while you reach for the armrest with the other hand. Firmly grasp the armrest. Next, move the other hand from the walker to the other armrest.
- Slowly sit down and slide backward into the chair.
What are some tips for using a walker safely?
- Wear nonskid shoes or slippers with rubber soles. Shoes are better than slippers since slippers can slide off your feet and cause you to fall. Do not wear shoes with leather heels or soles that may slide and cause you to fall.
- If you need to carry small things, hang a bag or basket on the walker. You can attach the bag or basket to the walker with hooks, snaps, or tape. If you cannot attach it yourself, ask someone to help you do this.
- Check the floor to be sure it is safe for using the walker. The floor must be clean, dry, and lighted. Remove throw rugs to prevent falls. Thick carpet can prevent the walker from moving easily. Tape or nail down loose carpet edges. Keep the traffic areas and the floor free of clutter. Wipe up floor spills quickly to prevent a fall.
- Check the rubber tips and wheels on your walker. Replace them if they are worn down or torn. Do this often to prevent slipping and falling.
- Look straight ahead when you are walking. You may run into or trip over something if you are looking at your feet.
Dos and do nots:
Do always take small steps when using a walker.
Do choose to sit in chairs that have firm armrests. Using armrests will help you get up from a sitting position more easily.
Do not pull on or tilt the walker when you are getting up from a sitting position.
Do not try to walk if you are dizzy.
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your illness, injury, surgery, or procedure. You can then discuss your treatment options with your caregiver. You can work with the caregiver to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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