Best Mobility Aids for Seniors (2021): Ultimate Guide to Devices for Getting Around

By Maurice

Best Mobility Aids for Seniors

As we age, our bodies go through a series of physiological changes that can drastically impair our ability to live our lives freely. These changes can result in a loss of cognitive thinking skills, as well as a decrease in mobility.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll review ways that older adults can maintain their mobility, and we'll discuss the most popular and helpful mobility aids that make getting older easier.


3 Tips for Seniors to be More Mobile

Exercise

strength exercise

Exercising is one of the best-proven ways to maintain your mobility and independence as you get older. In 2014, a study spanning 2.6 years, was conducted to measure the effect that physical activity could have on preventing mobility disability in seniors.

The findings showed that physical activity can drastically improve senior mobility, and it’s recommended that you enroll in an exercise program that can help you achieve your fitness goals. 

Even doing a 30-minute walk every day can have a vast impact on your overall health and well-being. Here’s a comprehensive list of exercises that you can do to improve your mobility, strength, and balance.

Maintain a healthy weight and diet

Being overweight can cause a functional decline that can lead to mobility impairment. As you get older and your body changes, it becomes very important to maintain a healthy weight and balanced diet. Good ways to stay on top of what you eat include:

  • Keeping track of what you eat.
  • Reducing the number of times you eat out.
  • Removing junk food and soft drinks from your diet.

Talk with your doctor or a nutritionist to learn what your ideal weight should be and what foods you should incorporate and remove from your diet to help you reach your health goals.

Invest in a mobility aid

If you experience moderate to severe mobility disability and need help getting around, then you might want to consider using a mobility aid. Mobility aids provide stability and support and make it easier to do simple tasks like getting up and sitting down, walking around the house, etc.

There are all sorts of mobility aids available to you. Talk to your doctor to see if a mobility aid is necessary, and together you can determine which mobility device would work best for you.


Mobility Scooters for Seniors

Similar to wheelchairs, mobility scooters are electric-powered devices that are recommended for seniors who have a hard time walking long distances. They operate almost like a motorcycle, and they’re very easy to use.

Mobility scooters can serve as an alternative to wheelchairs for seniors with limited arm and shoulder movement. They’re steered using what’s known as a tiller, and this allows you to move forward and backward and control how fast you’re going.

Some mobility scooters may include lighting controls, blinkers, or a speed limiter. There’s also a battery indicator to let you know when it’s time to charge your scooter.

Mobility scooters come in a variety of designs, and they’re all equipped with different features to meet your specific needs: These designs include:

  • Compact: Light transportation in your house and in public.
  • Mid-Size: Easy maneuverability for indoor/outdoor use.
  • Full-Size: Superior outdoor independece, ideal for people with large homes.
  • All-Terrain/Heavy Duty: Transportation for unpaved areas.
  • 3-Wheels: Offers more maneuverability, and makes it easier to do sharp turns.
  • 4-Wheels:Provides excellent stability, and they’re less likely to topple over.

When purchasing a mobility scooter, keep these things in mind:

  • Price: Most of the time, mobility scooters are covered, in part, or in full by Medicare. Their prices range anywhere from $900 to $3,000, so talk with your doctor to learn what kind of coverage you have and if it covers the cost of a mobility aid.
  • What type is it: Determine why you need a mobility scooter. Do you need it because you have a hard time walking to different rooms in your house? Are you trying to maintain your independent lifestyle by completing errands and going places on your own? Knowing what your needs are will make it easier to narrow down your choices.
  • Check out the features: If you have an oxygen tank, you’ll want a mobility scooter that’s equipped with an oxygen tank carrier. Additionally, you want to know how fast it goes, battery life, weight/height requirements, etc. Look for a mobility scooter that can comfortably accommodate you and your lifestyle.
  • Try before you buy: If you can, you should test out your mobility scooter before you buy it. This way, you’ll know for sure if it checks everything off your list.

Rollator Walkers for Seniors’ Mobility

Rollators, also known as wheeled walkers, are equipped with a frame, handlebar, and seat. They come in a variety of designs with anywhere between 3 to 7 wheels, and they’re used on a more consistent/permanent basis. Most rollators come with locking handle brakes as an extra measure of safety. Unlike walkers, rollators require less effort to maneuver which reduces fatigue, but at the same time makes them less stable then walkers.

Similar to mobility scooters, there are many types of rollators including indoor/outdoor rollators, 3-wheel, and 4-wheel rollators, All-terrain rollators, etc. Having a seat attached to this device lets you sit down whenever you need to regain your balance and strength. Also, if you’re standing in line somewhere, you’ll be able to rest comfortably instead of exerting your energy on standing for a long time.

There are a few things you should consider before you buy a rollator.

  • Talk to your doctor: Besides you, your doctor is the only other person who’ll be able to help you decide which rollator is best for you. They can help you choose a rollator that’s covered in part or in full by your insurance, and they can find you a rollator that will perfectly fulfill your needs.
  • Know the difference: Understand that there is a difference between walkers and rollators. The most obvious difference between these devices is that rollators have a seat and walkers don’t.
  • What’s it for: Depending on where you’re going and how you plan to use the rollator can affect which rollators are best for. Having an idea of how you plan to use the rollator will greatly help you narrow down your choices.
  • Know that it’s a manual device: Unlike mobility scooters, you power the rollator yourself. A rollator may not be the best choice if you have poor balance and strength or get tired easily. How fast you go is dependent on you and your physical limitations.
  • Foldability: You’ll want to see how easy it is to fold and store your rollator when you travel, or ride in a car. This applies to every rollator you look at.
  • Talk to your doctor: Besides you, your doctor is the only other person who’ll be able to help you decide which rollator is best for you. They can help you choose a rollator that’s covered in part or in full by your insurance, and they can find you a rollator that will perfectly fulfill your needs.
  • Know the difference: Understand that there is a difference between walkers and rollators. The most obvious difference between these devices is that rollators have a seat and walkers don’t.
  • What’s it for: Depending on where you’re going and how you plan to use the rollator can affect which rollators are best for. Having an idea of how you plan to use the rollator will greatly help you narrow down your choices.
  • Know that it’s a manual device: Unlike mobility scooters, you power the rollator yourself. A rollator may not be the best choice if you have poor balance and strength or get tired easily. How fast you go is dependent on you and your physical limitations.
  • Foldability: You’ll want to see how easy it is to fold and store your rollator when you travel, or ride in a car. This applies to every rollator you look at.

Wheelchairs for Seniors’ Mobility

Wheelchairs work best for people who are unable to place their full body weight on their lower limbs and people with severe disabilities. Unless someone is going to be there to push you around, you must have good arm and shoulder strength since most wheelchairs require that you push yourself to and from where you need to go. These types of chairs are what’s known as maunal wheelchairs. There are several types of wheelchairs available. They include:

  • Electric wheelchairs: Motorized or electric-powered wheelchairs for seniors with limited upper-body mobility.
  • Heavy Duty wheelchairs: These wheelchairs are specifically designed for seniors with excess weight.
  • Lightweight wheelchairs: These chairs are designed to fold-up easily and comfortably fit in the trunk of your car.
  • Ultralight wheelchairs: They weigh no more than 10 pounds, and they’re best to use when you travel. Note: Most ultralight chair can’t accommodate people with excess weight.

Wheelchairs are a more comfortable alternative to rollators and some mobility scooters because they provide back support while you use them. By using a wheelchair, you can come and go as you please and regain control of your independent lifestyle. Here are a few tips to consider when looking for a wheelchair:

  • Talk to your doctor/physical therapist: Sometimes, a wheelchair isn’t necessary, and it’s only helpful for a short time. Your doctor/physical therapist will help you determine if you need a wheelchair, and from there they can help you choose a wheelchair that will be perfect for you. They’ll also let you know if insurance will cover the cost of the chair.
  • Foldability: Like rollators, this feature is something you should strongly consider when looking for a wheelchair. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of places that are NOT wheelchair-friendly. Review how easy it is to pick up and go with your chair when looking at different options.
  • Pricing: It’s likely that your insurance will cover the cost of a wheelchair, and it’s something that you should talk about with your physician. However, in case wheelchairs aren’t covered by your insurance, you should know that wheelchairs can cost anywhere between $100 to $10,000 (motorized models). Create a budget before you buy it. Doing so will help keep you from spending an arm and a leg for a chair.

Canes for Seniors’ Mobility

Canes are typically the first line of defense when you notice a change in your mobility. Similar to crutches, canes are designed to help support the body by taking some of the load off your legs and feet. While they help support your lower body, they do put excess strain on your hands and wrists. Canes can usually hold up to about 25% of your body weight, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Using a cane can reduce your risk of falling and seriously hurting yourself. They also work to improve your balance and stability. The different types of canes include:

  • Standard canes: These have hooked handles, but there are standard canes with differently-shaped handles. Standard canes only have one point of contact to the ground.
  • Quad canes: Quad canes have 4 points of contact to the ground and can stand on their own. They have a wider base to provide better stability, and they come in a vast number of sizes.
  • Folding canes: Folding canes can easily be taken apart with all the pieces still connected and folded together for quick and easy storage.
  • White canes: White canes are specifically for people who are visually impaired. As the name suggests, the can is painted white as an indicator to others that the user is visually impaired/blind. They’re thinner and longer than standard canes to help the user avoid things in their path.

Canes are relatively cheap, ranging from $10 to $50, so you don’t have to worry about spending your last penny to get one. However, Medicare typically covers the cost of walking canes. Because canes come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, it’s best to meet with your doctor to find a cane that will be comfortable for you to use. You can also go someplace where they sell canes and try one out to see if it’s a good fit. This guide will teach you how to get a proper fit for your cane.


Bicycles for Seniors’ Mobility

Cycling is a great way for seniors to maintain their mobility. It works out your entire cardiovascular system, and it’s a low-impact exercise that can help slow down the aging process. A recent study in 2017 showed that cycling to and from places can lower your risk of cancer and CVD. It also concluded that cycling can help alleviate pain associated with chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes.

In addition to improving your physical health, cycling can also have a major impact on your mental health. As you get older, you may begin to notice a decline in your cognitive function. Fortunately, research shows that just 30 minutes of cycling a day can enhance your cognition and make things that were tiring to do easier.

Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself before you purchase a bike:

  • Where will you be going? Will you be riding your bike to cruise around your neighborhood, or will you be using it as a main source of transportation?
  • Do you want a standard bike or an indoor cycling machine? Cycling machines provide the same health benefits as cycling outdoors. The only difference is cycling machines let you cycle from the comfort of your home/gym.
  • Do you need a pedal-assist? There are electric-powered bikes to help reduce the strain on your knees, legs, and feet. Before you buy one, determine what type of bike will be suitable for you.
  • Do you have trouble getting on and off your bike? If you do, you might want to consider talking with your doctor to see what options are available to you to make your cycling an easy and enjoyable experience.

Stairlifts for Seniors’ Mobility

A stairlift is one of the best ways to stay in control of your independent lifestyle. It’s a device that makes it easier for older people experiencing balance issues to get up and down a flight of stairs. Stairlifts are made up of two parts: the track and the chair

The track determines how much the overall cost of the stairlift will be and where it can be placed in your home. There are 3 types of tracks:

  • Straight: The easiest and least expensive track that allows you to easily go up and down the stairs. It’s also the quickest track to install.
  • Curved: This type of track is a bit more pricey than a straight track, and it’s designed for any stairway with a bend. It may take a bit more time to install this track because precise measurements are needed for proper installation.
  • Outdoor: This type of track can either be straight or curved, and it’s made out of weather-proof materials, so it’s more expensive than a straight and curved track.

The chair is very important because it’s the part of the stairlift that you’ll interact with the most. Depending on your mobility needs, it can be customized to make you feel more secure and comfortable while riding and going up and down on the stairlift. When looking for a chair, keep an eye out for the following features:

  • Swivel: Allow you to get out of the chair with your feet planted on a solid surface.
  • Angled: Tilts back to help you feel more secure while you ride.
  • Armrests & Footrests: An added measure of safety.
  • Collapsable: Allows you to fold up the chair so that it takes up less space on the stairway.

Don't buy a stairlift without expert advice. An expert can sit down with you and help you determine which stairlift will best suit you and your home. Additionally, be sure that you know what is covered in the cost of a stairlift. Stairlifts can range anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000, so be sure you know what you’re paying for.

On top of that, talk with your doctor/expert to see if the stairlift will be covered in part or in full by your insurance. Most of the time, they’re covered, but it’s safe to be sure before you rush out and buy one.


Shoes for Seniors’ Mobility

As we get older, chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and edema can cause swelling in the feet which makes it hard to find shoes that fit comfortably. Luckily, there are specialty shoes, also known as adaptive footwear, that’s specifically designed to make wearing shoes a lot more comfortable and safe. A few more advantages of specialty shoes include:

  • Custom insoles as an added measure of comfort
  • Slip-resistent to reduce the risk of falls
  • Most don’t have laces to make it easier to put on your shoes and go
  • Flexible fabric lets you comfortably wear the shoe whether or not your foot is swollen
  • Custom insoles as an added measure of comfort
  • Slip-resistent to reduce the risk of falls
  • Most don’t have laces to make it easier to put on your shoes and go
  • Flexible fabric lets you comfortably wear the shoe whether or not your foot is swollen

Along with specialty shoes, there are other types of shoes that you should consider incorporating into your wardrobe. These include:

  • Walking shoes: A good pair of walking shoes will provide the right amount of traction that seniors need in a shoe to reduce the risk of falls.
  • Shoes without laces: They don’t require as much as effort as shoes with laces. Shoes without laces will either be slip-on or have an easy-to-use velcro strap.
  • Customized Orthotics: These are over the counter specialty shoes that help with pain and foot problems.

Here are a few things to consider when you’re looking for specialty shoes:

  • Flexibilty 
  • Slip-resisistance
  • Width
  • Are they adjustable?
  • Machine-washable
  • Do they have laces?
  • Flexibilty 
  • Slip-resisistance
  • Width
  • Are they adjustable?
  • Machine-washable
  • Do they have laces?

Hearing aids for Seniors’ Mobility

Hearing loss is one of the most common problems that people face as they get older. It can lead to a higher chance of developing dementia, and it can impair your cognitive function. Having evolved drastically over the years, hearing aids provide a simple yet highly-effective solution to treat hearing loss. They magnify the sound vibrations that enter the ear and convert them into neural signals that are sent to the brain. Having a hearing aid will help you communicate better, as well as provide you with more independence. There are three types of hearing aids:

  • Behind-the-ear (BTE): This hearing aid is equipped with a plastic case that’s worn behind the ear and is best suited for people of all ages who experience moderate to severe hearing loss.
  • In-the-ear (ITE): This hearing aid fits completely inside the inner ear and is best suited for people with mild to severe hearing loss. It comes with a telecoil that makes it easier to talk on the phone.
  • Canal: These hearing aids fit entirely in the ear canal and are best suited for people with moderately severe hearing loss. They’re small and can be hard to move/adjust.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are few things you should keep in mind when looking for a hearing aid.

  • Find a provider you trust: Speak with your doctor or family and friends to find a hearing aid provider that’s trusted and has a good reputation.
  • Pricing: Hearing aids can be really expensive. Find an affordable one, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Talk to your doctor to see if your insurance will cover the cost of a hearing aid.
  • Try before you buy: If there is no trial period for the manufacturer you’re interested in, I would advise that you look elsewhere.

GPS trackers for Seniors’ Mobility

As I mentioned before, a decrease in cognitive function and memory loss are common problems that people face when they get older. A GPS tracker is a safety device that seniors can use to find their location and their way back home. It can also be used by caregivers who are worried that their loved one will wander off and get lost. GPS trackers are typically equipped with emergency buttons that will alert loved ones with access to your tracker, and the authorities, of your location. There are a few factors that you should consider when looking for a GPS tracker.

  • Device compatibility: Is the tracker compatible with your smart device?
  • User-friendly interface: Is it easy to use for older adults who don’t have alot of experience with technology.
  • Support: You’ll want to find a tracker that offers around the clock customer suport.
  • Distress buttons: Does the tracker have an easy-to-access SOS button?

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