How to use a rollator properly

In some circumstances, older people and people who suffer from conditions that affect their physical condition struggle with mobility and may require additional assistance. Walking aids are items that have been designed to improve the mobility of these people and as a result can give them more freedom and improve their confidence and quality of life.

Walking aids come in different shapes and sizes to match the needs of the user. One of the most common is the rollator - a walking aid that encourages the user to walk but also incorporates extra features that can make mobility as easy and comfortable as possible. In this blog, we explain what a rollator is, how it differs from other walking aids and how you can use one.

What is a rollator?

Sometimes known as a rollator walker or rolling walker, a rollator is effectively a walker or walking frame with wheels on the bottom. Usually fitted with three or four wheels, a rollator typically also has additional features including a storage pouch that is usually situated at the front, brakes and a fold out seat to support the user during moments where they’re not moving. 

an older woman using a rollator to walk with her granddaughter

What is a rollator used for?

An effective solution for people that need additional help with walking, rollators have become a popular alternative to walkers that carry many benefits. Along with storage and seating, the wheels on the bottom are especially helpful for people that are lacking in physical strength but are able to walk with assistance.

While traditional walkers continue to be a tried and tested walking aid, rollators help people that need even more assistance by rolling along the floor instead of needing to be frequently picked up for movement. 

How to use a rollator

Walking with a rollator is a simple process, but for some people, it can be difficult to know how to approach it, especially if they’ve never used one before.

Instructions for using a rollator:

1. Stand directly behind the rollator

2. Put both hands around the handles, grip firmly and ensure that the breaks are within reach of your fingers

3. Walk naturally but lean all of your weight towards your feet, only using the rollator for balance and additional support

4. When you want to stop, reverse this process and consider where you want to move next before moving away from the rollator.

Can you push someone in a rollator?

Although you may think that a seat is fitted to a rollator so it can be used as a wheelchair, it’s actually only provided so users can sit in it when they’re stationary. In fact, rollators don’t have the necessary strength or carrying weight to be used as seated transport for users to be pushed around on.

Due to this, it’s strongly advised that users aren’t pushed around on a rollator as it could become damaged, potentially causing harm to the user and the person pushing them. 

Can a rollator be used as a wheelchair?

The purpose of a rollator is to improve the ability for users to walk. As such, it isn’t designed to hold the full weight of users or transport them as a wheelchair or mobility scooter would.

Unlike these other forms of walking aid, a rollator is intended for people that only need additional support with standing or walking. If you require this level of assistance with your mobility, a wheelchair or mobility scooter would be better suited than a rollator.

How to fold a rollator

Whenever you’re not using your rollator, you may decide to fold it away so it can easily be transported or stored. Due to its lightweight frame, the rollator is typically one of the simplest walking aids to fold away. Simply pull upwards on the seat, push both sides together and allow the two sides of the rollator to meet in the middle.

You can now move it much more easily and it will be more compact for storage in a cupboard at home or in the boot of your car if you’re planning on using it to navigate shops, restaurants or other outdoor areas.

How to lock brakes on a rollator

On a rollator, there are typically two different sets of brakes: the brakes that are attached to the handles for stopping the rollator during motion and the brakes that are designed to lock the wheels in place, designed to be used when you are stationary.

The first set of brakes are used temporarily and applied by squeezing the trigger on the handles. The second set is sometimes controlled behind the handles in a mechanism that locks the wheels. However, in some cases, you will need to lock the wheels manually as you would on a traditional wheelchair by pushing a lever next to each wheel to fix the individual locks onto them

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