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Mom is okay inside the house..but if ever we go out, mom will hold my hand for support and I walk at her pace, right next to her. This was how she walked in summer in a nearby park. But the way she struggled to walk outside scared me and I thought maybe a walker will help


She has private insurance, no medicare/medicaid yet since she just came to America and has not worked here. So the cost of the walker will be an issue, I guess? ?Do I ask her Dr for walker recommendations?


She's 85, has moderate dementia and will not know how to use brakes/features on a walker. It should be very simple..as simple as a walking stick....so then what should I look for?


Anyway, now with colder weather, we are not going out unless visiting family members houses which has no steps or has elevators.

Consider that everyone is unique in their individual abilities and aptitude and level of disability.
I have had LOs who lived into their 90s and never needed a walker or wheelchair or even a cane. But the right tool for the job is always a good thing.
My DH aunt, 95, with dementia has lost her core strength and can no longer walk more than a step or two to transition.
She ran the whole spectrum from shopping cart to cane to simple walker to rollator. She used a cane so long she wore through the rubber end. When I asked if she should transition to a walker I was told no by a physical therapist. She was very accustomed to it and very active with it. Canes work well for those who are at a certain age and stage. She never fell with it in all the years she used it. When she started holding onto everyone and everything in reach she transitioned to the walker.
Whether it’s a cane, walker or rollator it needs to be adjusted for the height and arm length of the user.
I also think someone who was always fairly athletic is going to find it easier to manage a device than someone less naturally coordinated. Aunt had no problem with learning how to use the brakes on the rollator but by the time she got one she was never walking w/o someone by her side. I often think she was operating it like her last self-propelling lawn mower which she used in her 80s to mow her own lawn.
My mom with no dementia, fell while using a rollator and felt safer with her aluminum walker. She never used a cane and primarily used a walker because she was fatigued with CHF.
when doing her daily routine she would stop and rest a minute with the support of the walker.
For your mom, I would suggest she not walk on uneven terrain at all. Unless it is a routine and well known path, I would put her in a transport wheelchair. She and you will arrive less frazzled and safer. A fall often precedes the most accelerated decline and once the falls begin they seem to continue. Look at YouTube videos for tips. Also, make sure her toenails are cared for and that her shoes fit properly.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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Mom fell w/ her cane so we found the perfect walker @ CVS. It has adjustable height and no wheels so she feels safe & stable. She said it has saved her from falling many times!
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Reply to CatEye
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wearynow: Imho, ask her physician for the recommendation that you're looking for. It is very good that you know she requires a walker because oftentimes the elder will, as you have described, want to grab onto their LO's/caregiver's arm and that is VERY dangerous since it could precipitate a fall for both individuals.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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I would ask her doctor for a recommendation since she doesn't seem to understand how to use brakes or features.
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Reply to ibomifl4862
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My mother, who has dementia, couldn't learn how to use a walker. Eventually she "forgot" how to walk and now has to go around in a wheel chair. Will your mother accept being in a wheel chair? There are portable ones that can be folded and put in a trunk of a car. It's also good if you end up in locations where there are no places to sit. She'll have her own seating. If you do end up trying a walker, get the kind that have built in seats. Medicare should pay for this or a wheel chair.
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Reply to NancyIS
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I would talk with local Dept. of Aging about this and/or her doctor for recommendations.- including the possibility of financial assistance. It may be that she really needs a wheel chair depending on her stability. There are usually specialty stores in most areas that may be helpful. You can frequently find something that is reasonably priced especially if gently used
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Reply to HILLARDMH
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Go to your local Salvation Army, Goodwill or any second hand store. That is where
we got one for a family member and just cleaned it with Lysol. Big difference in price .
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Reply to LMarrero
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Ricky6 Nov 13, 2021
You can also get a walker, wheelchair, etc. from https://www.med-eq.org. Med-Eq liaisons individuals & industry who wish to donate medical supplies with not-for-profit groups that desire these materials. There is no cost, though the recipient must assume transport expenses. In some circumstances community for-profit agencies may make a request.
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Without having yet read the other answers, have a physical therapist evaluate and recommend. Depending on the level of dementia, it may be difficult to get her to use the walker. My mom's dementia was more at the very beginning stages and with her very controlling personality, it was a very difficult process getting her to accept and consistently use the walker. It took much continued patience and consistent repetition to use and why to use the walker. And for my mom, the PT said it was best for her to use a basic walker, rolling front wheels and slides for the rear. I see one right now an Amazon for $55 and basic grey slides for rear of walker are $14.95. ( I am unsure why someone uses tennis balls on walkers, rather than the slides. )
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Reply to Myownlife
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When it comes to Walkers and Rollators, there are so many to choose from. It is best to go to a reputable Durable Medical Equipment supplier and try a out a few .
The other big benefit is they will properly fit one for your size. I highly advise against going to a large box store and buying one off the shelf. Remember that getting properly fitted is the key for your safety.
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Reply to JEJamian
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JoanZP Nov 15, 2021
Oh, I do so hope EVERYONE considering purchase of a walker would read and FOLLOW your advise to go to a Durable Medical Equipment supplier FIRST!!! The are multiple factors to be evaluated when selecting the walker with the best characteristics AND size. My mother was using a "hand me down" from a neighbor that she had decided she needed on her own---without consulting with a physician, physical therapist etc. And ended up using it inappropriately , causing more damage to her injured shoulder because she was placing increased pressure on the injured muscles and joints. Your suggestion was 100% on target!!!!
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Drive has a walker that is small enough to get through the doorways of the smallest homes. If your mother is less than 150 pounds, this will work for her. I would not give her anything with wheels on it right now, it’s just a little too tricky to learn the brakes. The walker I am speaking of allows the wheels that are in the front and usually put on the outside of the legs to be turned to the inside of the legs which allows freedom through the smallest doorways. Hope this helps!
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Reply to Texasgal21
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I have a lightweight aluminum walker available on Amazon. No brakes but flat slides on the rear so it can’t run away .very sturdy (my husband is 6 foot, 190 pounds) he can’t use brakes either.
About $99 .
I tried to paste photo.
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Reply to bestafk
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I will be 88 and know all the walking aids because I cannot walk. Not everyone can use a walker or a rollator - too risky. There are very light weight wheelchairs (not heavy usual type) that someone can lift after folding easily and it can be easily pushed by someone. That is what I suggest. Don't risk walkers -they can fall and get broken bones and then doom.
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Reply to Riley2166
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Only three types of walker's, if you don't think she can use the brakes then you'll have to get the one without wheels.

My Dad has dementia and he uses the walker with wheels as you only need a brake if they are going downhill or start to fall. His walker also has a seat to sit in case you need to take a break.
A regular light weight walker with no wheels, no seat is not very expensive. She just picks it up an inch,, takes a step and puts it back down or I'd walking on a tile floor, she just scoots it along.
You can punch a hole in 4 tennis balls to put one on each walker leg so it won't slip on slippery tile and it makes it where it will slide over tile easier and she doesn't have to pick it up a little
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Reply to bevthegreat
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Simple walker with wheels on the bottom. Some may have a flip down seat if she becomes tired. Get ones that can adjust for her height. Talk to her doctor; mom might be able to get a prescription to cover the cost through medical insurance. Otherwise, I have seen plenty of walkers in thrift stores that support hospitals and hospice.
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Reply to Taarna
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I'm in Arkansas and the Goodwill stores here will just give them to you for free.
You have to ask at the front desk, they keep them in the back storeroom.

I got one for my 86 year old father when he was having a hard time getting around.

Also, dad lives in an older home. The doorway to the bathroom is more narrow than the bedroom doorways.

I measured the bathroom doorway and even a narrow walker was still too wide to fit thru. So, I turned the back wheels on the walker to the INSIDE of the walker and now it fits thru perfect.

He also has a wide walker for when he is outside for a little extra stability.

I had no idea that there were so many types of walkers, but we get by with a simple narrow walker inside the house. 2 wheels and 2 tennis balls.

Also buy the tennis ball that are not precut and cut them yourself, it saves a couple of dollars.

Best wishes to you.
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Reply to BadYear2020
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I have a rollater and I use it. It makes me feel safer. My insurance paid for most of it. I paid less than $30 for it. It has a seat and brakes.
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Reply to Magwheels
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A simple walker is probably best. You have to sort of lift it to move it forward. You can always cut an X into tennis balls and put them on back legs. This may be helpful?
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Reply to DadsGurl
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I bought my 87 yr old mom with dementia a regular walker on Amazon..front wheels..slides on back..with no seat ..A fall can happen if they forget to use brakes before sitting down. Cost: $55.00 for a fancy red one with saddle bags. A basic walker can be free if MD scripts it. Also try a thrift shop..very cheap there.
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Reply to Sadinroanokeva
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If she only needs a simple walker for extra support, you can often find one in good condition for $5 or $6 at a thrift shop.
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Reply to RedVanAnnie
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Check w/ health professionals on type. Generally a 4 wheeled Rollator is recommended ( very balanced & sturdy) they can be pricey…BUT my 97 yr. old MIL has standard Medicare they paid most of it ….her out of pocket cost was only $25 ..certainly affordable for most people.
Good Luck!
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Reply to Lucilletln1
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I don't know where you live but where I live we have a place called Retired and Senior Volunteer Program that has these kinds of devices like walkers, wheel chairs that all you have to do is sign for it and keep it as long as you need it return when not in use. I would look for something like this program in your area.
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Reply to Babs2013
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this takes time - but you can haunt donation places such as GoodWill. You can often find nice ones.
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Reply to sparkielyle
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Agree to not guess - have an OT prescribe.

Your Mom might have it for years. She wants it to fit & suit her needs well. Your needs too as you will also be moving it into car I presume?

Well meaning folk I have come across;
Supermarket walker purchased for tall elderly man who had started to fall. Was too short, caused him back pain & delayed investigation for falls (dx: BP, not balance).

2nd hand model purchased online. Faulty brakes = near miss accident.

Standard walker bought, not enough consideration for use - needing to be lifted into car frequently. Too heavy for carer to manage. Lighter weight 3 wheeler may be suited better.

Just some examples.. if no OT professional near you (or too costly) try a shop that specialises in mobility aides (but beware of sales pitches skewed towards high spec $$ models you don't need etc).
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Reply to Beatty
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JoAnn29 Nov 10, 2021
If by a Standard you mean rollator they are heavy. I don't call them standard thought. Standard, for me, is a lightweight aluminum one.
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Thank you, everyone. I appreciate all your suggestions
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Reply to wearynow
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You don't use tennis balls outside. They are used to glide across smooth flooring. There are sliders for carpet. The regular walker with wheels in the front should be good. Lightweight and folds up. I would recommend the blue levered one for folding. There are some with smaller wheels on the back and the big ones in the front. There are some with thumb levers that are hard to fold.

Try to make sure Mom uses it correctly. I know this will be hard but I see people using them wrong. Hunched over with the walker in front of them. It should be at the right height for standing straight. You push it ahead and walk into it. I agree, see if Moms insurance covers a therapist to show her how do use. Also, see if her insurance covers durable equipment.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Midkid58 Nov 12, 2021
100% spot on, JoAnn. Too many people walk like they are 'chasing' the walker with it waaay too far in front of them to do much good.

I actually rarely see someone who ISN'T 'pushing' their walker, and it leads to back problems, hip problems, etc. AND can actually CAUSE falls rather than prevent them. 80% of mom's 'bad falls'--her walker was right there!

Mother has both the aluminum frame one and the rollator, which has a seat and IMHO a much better option for everything, except trying to stand to cook. But when the person suddenly gets lightheaded or too tired to stand, they can simply sit down. Also they often have a little basket under the seat and all their 'stuff' can be stowed there. Mother doesn't like the rollator, so she uses the aluminum one and hangs her heavy purse on one side and an equally large 'catchall' bag on the other side, PLUS a
front pack on the front rails. The whole thing weighs about 10 lbs with all this junk. Plus, if it's not 'loaded' properly, the weight of either bag will tip the walker over.

Aluminum frame ones are really cheap. Rollators are more, but still not expensive.

But really, using whatever device you settle on--she needs to learn how to walk with it. Mom was taught, but never uses hers properly.
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Don't guess. Take her to a physical or occupational therapist, take advice, and let her try a few out.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I really don't see the tennis ball walkers as being any use outdoors, there is just no way they can handle concrete, asphalt or any other outdoor surfaces.
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Reply to cwillie
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Go to ARC thrift and pick up a silver walker (the ones with the green tennis balls on the front) for about $10 and you're all set. Better yet, wait till half price day and get one for $5.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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Pprivate insurance should cover a referral to see an occupational therapist for the best professional opinion. A stick or walker needs to be properly sized. Meanwhile, to get s cane, you can go to the pharmacy. For a walker, contact your local senior center social services. They might have a closet full of donated items.
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Reply to MACinCT
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Could you ask for an occupational therapist to do an evaluation?

What I did was walk with my mom so that I could control her speed and direction (she was visually impaired) and apply the brakes as well as help her to turn and sit if she needed to. For outside I think I would opt for a rollator with wheels that are big enough to handle rough terrain and a sturdy seat - some are designed to function as a makeshift wheelchair too and that could come in handy if she tires easily.
For indoor use we preferred using a smaller, "old fashioned" light weight walker with only two wheels, it was much more manoeuvrable and fit into smaller spaces. (rather than the tennis balls I bought skis for the back legs so she could glide over carpet)
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Reply to cwillie
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Hummer Nov 12, 2021
I second the occupational therapist!! Someone gave my mom a used walker that was "set" too low for her, but since it was good enough for her friend it was good enough for her. She refused to have it adjusted. *sigh* She had lovely posture until she started using the walker.
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