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Your guide to rollators

Your guide to rollators

The right rollator can help you feel safer and more confident in getting out and about, but with so many to choose from it can be tricky to know which is best for you. Find your ideal rollator with the help of our handy guide.

Rollators vs walking frames

Rollators vs walking frames

The main difference between a rollator and a walking frame (sometimes known as a zimmer frame) is that rollators have wheels on the end of each leg and are designed to be pushed, whereas walking frames generally don’t have wheels on each leg and need to be lifted. Walking frames also tend to be more suited for use indoors.

Many rollators include a seat, too, which you won’t find with walking frames.

Rollators are a great option if you need support with your mobility in the community, and can also help you carry your shopping home with less risk of overbalancing.

Types of rollator
3-wheel

3-wheel rollators are great for getting around narrower spaces and are easy to manoeuvre. 

They have height-adjustable steel or aluminium frames and are usually the lightest type of rollator, making them easier to lift into the car or the house.

3-wheel rollators also folds for easy storage, making it a great option to consider if you’re low on space at home.

Many include a bag or basket for easy storage of things like your shopping or personal possessions, too.

    3-wheel
    4-wheel

    4-wheel rollators are ideal for outdoor use as most include a seat and backrest. There are a variety of seating and backrest options to help you choose what will be most comfortable.

    The stability of the 4 wheels gives better balance, which is helpful if you need the extra support. 

    These types of rollators are foldable, but may not fold down quite as small as the 3-wheeled ones or by much at all. 

    Many include convenient storage options, have height adjustable handles, and a frame that comes in steel or aluminium.

      4-wheel
      5-wheel

      A 5-wheel rollator is another great option for getting around narrower spaces. Like the 3-wheel option, a 5-wheel rollator is easy to manoeuvre.

      The extra wheels on these rollators mean they provide additional support and stability, while still offering all the benefits of a 3-wheel rollator like the ability to fold it down for easier storing.

      The 5-wheel rollators also include seating options as well as storage options. 

        5-wheel
        Heavy duty

        Heavy-duty rollators are ideal if a larger weight limit is needed or if the seat on a standard rollator isn’t quite wide enough.

        These rollators have 4 wheels offering better stability and balance, giving and extra level of support. 

        Heavy-duty rollators also come in a variety of different styles of  seating and backrest options for added comfort. Like the other types of rollator, they also have height-adjustable handles.

        Many offer storage options like a basket or bag to carry shopping or personal items.

          Heavy duty
          2-in-1

          2-in-1 rollator and transit chairs can, as the name suggests, be used either as a rollator or as a transit chair. This makes it ideal if you can walk short distances on your own but also need an option that allows you to be pushed when needed. 

          This type of chair include all the benefits of a rollator, like height adjustable handles, storage options, and stability and support while walking, while also being set up to use as a transit chair. Meaning it has a padded seat and padded backrest with sturdy footrests and a pushbar.

            2-in-1
            Top tip from our Occupational Therapists
            To get the best handle height, ask a friend or relative to measure from the floor to the bony part of your wrist, while standing. Use this measurement to find a rollator that adjusts to that height.

            Things to consider

            Are you looking for a mobility aid to help you around the home, when you’re out and about, or both? While some rollators can be used indoors, you may find that a walking trolley with a tray is more helpful. If you want to use it to go to the tiny corner shop, you may want to consider a narrow rollator, like a 3-wheel rollator, that’s easier to manoeuvre around the aisles.

            Even if you only plan to use your rollator outside, you will still need to be able to get it in and out of your home. Measure the width of your doors or hallway and check that the rollator you want isn’t too wide to fit. This is especially important to check if there are any tight corners that you’ll need to be able to get the rollator around. If it’s too wide, you’re going to get stuck.

            If you have a garden gate, you should also measure this as well so you know that you can pass through it with ease.

            Not all rollators come with the same accessories. If you want to be able to use your rollator to carry your shopping or personal things, double-check the size of the bag or basket that the rollator comes with. Will it be big enough to carry what you want it to? 

            You should also think about the position of the bag or basket and how easy it would be for you to reach it.

            Not all rollators come with a seat. Think about how you’ll be using a rollator. If you plan on taking a longer walks or if you find that you tire easily, you may want a seat so you can take a break if you need to.

            If you do want a rollator with a seat, check to make sure it’s at a height you can easily get up from once you’re sat down. If it’s too low for you you may struggle to get back up again.

            Depending on the size and style, rollators can take up more space than you may be expecting. If you don’t have space to store a full-size rollator, you will need to check what the dimensions of the rollator are when it’s folded. Some are more compact than others when folded.

            Measure the boot of the car to see what size rollator will fit in there. Some are able to fold down into a more compact size whereas others don’t really fold down much (if at all). If you have a small boot and you know that you want to be able to fit your rollator in there, this will definitely impact which rollators you look at, as the 3-wheel may be a better fit than a 4-wheel.

            There may be times when you or a relative need to lift the rollator, whether that’s to lift it into the car or lift it up a small set of steps. Check the weight of the rollator on the product specification. Would you be able to lift it on your own? Would your relative or friend would be able to lift it either?

            Rollators come in a variety of sizes that adjust to different handle heights and are rated for different amounts of weight. Make sure to double check that the handle height and the max user weight on your chosen rollator fit your measurements.

            How to get the right rollator handle height

            How to get the right rollator handle height

            It’s important to make sure that the rollator has the right handle height for you. The wrong handle height leaves you at risk of falls as you may be stooping or leaning forward or backwards to compensate for it.

            To find the right handle height for the rollator:

            • Make sure you’re wearing the shoes you would usually be wearing while using it
            • Stand upright with your arms hanging at the side of your body
            • Keep your head upright and face forwards
            • The rollator handgrips should be adjusted so they are in line with your wrists. This is so there will be a slight bend in your elbow when using it
            Top tip from our Occupational Therapists
            Did you know we run a free Expert Advice Service? If you’re struggling to find the right rollator or not sure if it’s right for you, please get in touch on 0345 121 8111 and we’ll do our best to help.
            Rollator safety

            Rollators are great mobility aids to help you get out and about but there are a few safety dos and don’ts to keep in mind.

            • Make sure you have enough strength in your hands to be able to use the brakes
            • Check the handle height is right for you before you use it (see tips above for help with this)
            • Try to avoid twisting when turning the rollator. Keep your body within the width of the frame and move with the rollator
            • Sit down without using the parking brake/locking the brakes
            • Lean too far forwards or backwards while using it - it may cause you to overbalance and fall
            • Push the rollator too hard. The further it is from your body, the harder it becomes to control

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            Why buy from us

            We’ve been working for over 70 years to help people maintain their independence for longer through daily living aids and support from our team of Occupational Therapists. As members of the British Healthcare Trades Association, we abide by a strict code of practice and will never force you to buy a product you don’t need.

            If you need any help in deciding if a product is right for you and your unique mobility needs, please contact our Expert Advice Service.

            Why buy from us
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