Mobility Aids Available for the Elderly and Disabled

Many of us have difficulty walking from place to place, whether that is a short walk to the kitchen to make a cup of tea or a long walk out with family or friends. Luckily, there is a wide range of mobility aids available to help the elderly, disabled and anyone else that needs short or long term help getting about. This guide provides an explanation of the different types of mobility aids available.

1. Walking Stick

The humble walking stick has been around since the moment man learned to walk. They are great for those who are generally able to walk around well and just want a little help balancing. A walking stick can make you more confident and is also a sign to others that you have some difficulty getting around, perfect if you are worried about being bumped into and knocked over when you go out.

There is a huge variety of walking sticks available. The most typical of all is the T-bar handle which is easy to grip. Crook handle walking sticks have a rounded handle which looks very traditional and elegant, and can be hung over the arm easily when not in use, but can be difficult to grasp so do not opt for this type if you will be relying on the stick for a lot of support. A Derby handle is somewhere between the T-bar and crook styles, making it both easy to grip and easy to hang over the arm too.

A Fischer handle is a great choice if you plan to put a lot of weight onto the stick as it has been specifically shaped to reduce pressure on the hand. It is best for large-sized hands, so a contour handle is a good compromise for women, being a slimmer version that is perfectly suited to small palms.

For those particularly worried about falling but who wish to use a walking stick, choose a swan neck handle that reduces the likelihood of the stick slipping on the ground. You can also buy walking sticks that have three or four feet for additional support, rather than just one. These walking sticks also stay standing when not in use, perfect if you often drop your walking stick and have difficulty bending to pick it up again.

2. Walking Frame or Rollator

Frames are great for those who want to stay on their feet but need more stability than a walking stick can offer. They can greatly increase your confidence due to the extra support they provide, and certain styles come with built-in seats for when you want to take a rest, or baskets and pockets so that you can carry items around. Non wheeled frames, often known as "Zimmer frames", are great for walking short distances such as around the house. However, the frame needs to be picked up for every step, so they are not great for long distances.

To take a trip up the road to the shops, a rollator, which is a wheeled walking frame, may be better. It can simply be rolled along in front of you as you walk. Make sure that you buy one suitable for where you will be using it. Small wheeled rollators are perfect for indoors whilst large wheeled ones work better outdoors but may be too big and bulky to manoeuvre around home furniture.

3. Wheelchair or Scooter

If you get extremely tired from walking, even over short distances, seated mobility aids can enable you to move around easily without worrying about fatigue or falling. You can choose wheelchairs that you drive or that someone else pushes. For even greater freedom, a mobility scooter is perfect as you can move quickly and easily, plus many come with baskets so you can pop to the local shops for example and bring your purchases back on the scooter. However, they may be too big to use indoors, especially at home.

Overall, there is a wide variety of mobility aids available, and it is up to you to choose the one you will be most comfortable using. For some, a walking stick may do perfectly well whilst for others a rollator may be a better choice. It may even be wise to buy two types, for example a walking frame for the house and a scooter for outdoors. If you suffer from a chronic illness or disability, disability VAT exemption may apply to you, so be sure to find out if you qualify before you make any purchases, as you could save a lot of money.

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