How to Choose a Rollator

How Do I Choose a Rollator?

The airline broke my mother’s rollator. She really didn’t like the vacation replacement rollator I got her. It was too wide and too tall. It hadn’t even occurred to me that there were different kinds of rollators. Now I know better.

Answer these questions to find a rollator that matches your needs:

  1. How tall are you?
  2. How wide are you?
  3. How much do you weigh?
  4. How wide are your hallways and doorways?
  5. Will you use the rollator on uneven terrain or outdoors?
  6. Do you have incontinence issues?
  7. Do you have memory lapses?

Measuring foot to knee, knee to butt, and hip to hip go a long way in getting you the right size rollator. Many rollators are height adjustable, but only a very few are width adjustable.

See “How Do You Choose a Rollator” below, for exactly what you need to know.

What is a Rollator?

A rollator is a wheeled walker. It is a framed seat on wheels.

Rollator Go Plus
Rollator Go Plus

You use a rollator balance yourself while walking.

A rollator looks like a walker, but there are several differences between a walker and a rollator.

You push the rollator ahead of you as you walk, much as you would a shopping cart.

A rollator has wheels, brakes, and a seat.

Three wheel rollators are good for small spaces. Four-wheel rollators are more stable.

A rollator seat is either plastic or cushioned. It might be height-adjustable. Some rollator seats flip up for storage underneath.

Why Do You Need a Rollator?

Endurance HD Bariatric Rollator
Endurance HD Bariatric Rollator

Rollators are useful for people who need stability support while walking.

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You can lean on the rollator while walking, which stabilizes your body.

If you are feeling dizzy, weak, or unstable, it gives you a solid frame to hold onto.

It’s also useful for people who need a rest while walking. The built-in seat gives you a place to rest along the way.

Sometimes post-surgery patients use rollators for stability while healing. But for maximum stability, you would use a walker first, and then graduate into a rollator.

To use a rollator, you must be weight bearing. Unlike a wheelchair or scooter, the rollator does not take any weight off your feet.

You also must have the arm strength to hold the rollator grips, and to push the unit along in front of you.

What Rollator Choices are There?

Medline empower rollator
Medline empower rollator

Manufacturers offer different levels of quality and size rollators. These are the standard categories:

  1. Standard (or “Basic”): standard size and height, mostly for indoors
  2. Heavy Duty: heavier construction for bigger users and outdoors
  3. Bariatric: heavier and larger construction for people over 350 lb.
  4. Deluxe Comfort: heavy duty rollators with comfort features

Then there are basic feature categories that make it easier to narrow down your choice.

  1. Folding: Using buttons, folds into a smaller size for transport
  2. Height-Adjustable: The seat and hand grips adjust to different heights

The categories cross over each other.

A three-wheel, lightweight rollator is good for indoors, but only flat pavement outdoors.

A heavy-duty rollator that is too large for indoors, can excel on uneven sidewalks and wooded paths.

When you shop for a rollator, you will match your answers against rollator features such as these:

  • handle height
  • seat height
  • seat width
  • seat depth
  • weight capacity

How Do You Choose a Rollator Questions and Answers

To choose a rollator right for your needs, answer the questions below. The table gives you the rollator types for each possible answer to each question.

How to Choose a Rollator Questions and Answers
Question
Answer 1
Answer 2
Will you use the rollator in a narrow home with small doorways?
“Yes. My home has narrow hallways or doors.”
Three wheel rollators are narrower than four wheel rollators, so fit better in narrow halls and doors.
“No. My home has spacious hallways and doors.”
Four-wheel rollators are more stable than three wheel rollators, so are preferred if they fit your use.
Will you pack the rollator into a car or other transportation?
“Yes, I will stow the rollator for transport.”
Three wheel rollators are usually lighter than four-wheel rollators, so they are easier to pack.
“No, I will not stow the rollator for transport.”
Four-wheel rollators are more stable than three wheel rollators, so are preferred if they fit your use.
Will you use the rollator indoors, outdoors, or both?
“Yes, I will use the rollator indoors.”
Get wheels as large as 6 in. for indoor use.
“No, I will use the rollator outdoors, or both indoors and outdoors.”
Get wheels at least 8 in. in diameter.
Will you carry many personal belongings on my rollator?
“Yes, I will bring lots of stuff on my rollator.”
Look for extra storage under the rollator seat.
“No, I will not bring many belongings on my rollator. “
You do not need the extra under seat storage.
Do you have incontinence issues?
“Yes, I have incontinence issues.”
Get a plastic rollator seat that is repels substances making it easier to clean.
“No, I do not have incontinence issues.”
Get a cushioned seat, which is more comfortable than a plastic seat.
Am you 350 lb. or over?
“Yes, I am 350 lb. or more.”
Get a bariatric rollator.
“No, I am less than 350 lb. “
Get a standard size rollator.
Do I have a good memory?
“I have a good memory.”
Get standard “squeeze” brakes. You must remember to lock them before sitting. The advantage is that they do not accidentally lock while walking.
“I do not have a good memory.”
Get “push down brakes” that will auto-lock when you use the rollator seat.

What Size Rollator Do You Need?

Rally Lite Rollator
Rally Lite Rollator

Choose a rollator appropriate to your height, width, and weight. You’ll need a tape measure to do this right.

If you get it wrong, there might be some adjustability in the rollator’s frame and seat to adjust for any mistakes.

But not all rollators are adjustable. And the adjustability might not be adequate to make up for a measuring mistake.

Measure twice. Buy the right rollator once.

Here are the measurements you need to determine the right size rollator for you.

What Size Rollator Do You Need?
Question
Measurement
More Info
While you’re sitting down, what is the width from the left hip to the right hip?
Get a rollator with a seat at least this width, or greater

Standard Rollator Seat Widths are:

  • Adult: 13-18 in.
  • Heavy Duty: 18-22 in.
  • Bariatric: 22-32 in.
What is the distance from your feet to your knees?
You want a Seat to Floor Height that matches this distance.
Standard Seat to Floor Height is 18 to 25 in. It’s easier on your knees get into and out of a taller seat, but it can also strain your balance.
When is the distance from your feet to your hips?
This is the approximate height of your ideal rollator handle.
Rollator manufacturers ask, “what is the distance from your feet to your hands, if your hands are at a 15 deg. angle?” If you’re comfortable with that question, go ahead and answer this question rather than the feet-to-hip question.
What is your weight?
Get a walker with the right amount of support.

Standard Walker Capacities:

  • Standard: 300 lb.
  • Heavy Duty: 400 lb.
  • Bariatric: 500 lb.

What is the Lightest Rollator?

As of publication of this article (October 2019), the lightest rollator available is the Medline Ultralight Rollator.

The Ultralight weighs 11 lb.

Usually three wheel rollators are the lightest. The Medline is a four-wheel rollator, which is great, because that makes it more stable.

The Ultralight is height-adjustable for users from 4 ft. 11 in. to 6 ft. 4 in., which is a substantial range that covers almost everyone.

The Ultralight is a Standard Rollator for users no larger than 250 lb.

The wheels are 6 in. in diameter, meaning that this rollator is primarily for indoor use, but you can use it outside on level ground.

Can You Sit on a Rollator?

Yes, you can sit on a rollator! There are three differences between a rollator and a walker. The rollator has wheels, brakes, and a seat!

Can You Push Someone in a Rollator?

Don’t use a standard rollator as a wheelchair.
If you want to push someone in a rollator, get a combination rollator-wheelchair.

Lumex rollator wheelchair hybrid
Lumex rollator wheelchair hybrid

A Rollator and Transport Chair is a hybrid rollator and wheelchair. It is not a full-fledged wheelchair, so you need to know the limitations.

When you are walking, you will push the Rollator/Transport Chair in front of you. You will use it the same way you use a regular rollator.

You can also sit in the Rollator/Transport Chair just as you would sit in a rollator.

What’s different is that you can have someone push you in the Rollator/Transport Chair. But you cannot make the chair move while sitting down. Someone has to push you.

Do Rollators Have Storage?

Rollators storage includes baskets, pouches, and under-seat storage.

Some rollators don’t have storage in the base model, but you can add on a basket or pouch.

Under seat storage is not an add-on. It has to be in the original unit.

How Much Do Rollators and Walkers Cost

The prices here are typical. Some vendors charge significantly more than others do. Like ten and twenty times as much. I don’t include their numbers in the price ranges because there’s no need to pay so much.

A rollator is a wheeled frame with brakes and a seat. Rollators cost between $60 and $250. Specialized sport and bariatric rollators cost up to $1500.

A walker is a non-wheeled frame, with no brakes and no seat. Walkers cost between $25 and $120. Extra tall and specialized bariatric walkers cost up to $325.

A rollator walker (or “walker with wheels”) is a frame with two wheels in the front and rubber tips in the back. Rollator walkers cost between $35 and $135.

A rollator and transport chair is a combination rollator and wheelchair. It has a frame, wheels, brakes and a seat. A caretaker can push you in this chair. You cannot propel yourself. There’s no way for you to move the chair yourself while sitting in it. Rollator and transport chairs cost between $180 and $260. Wheelchairs start at around $325, which will also get you the ability to move the chair without help while sitting down.

What is the Difference Between a Walker and a Rollator?

You pick up a walker with each step.
You pick up a walker with each step.

A rollator is like a walker with wheels, brakes, and a seat.

Lift vs. Push: To use a walker, you pick it up with each step forward. You don’t pick up a rollator. You push it along in front of you, like a shopping cart.

Arm Strength: Because you’re not lifting the rollator with each step, it is requires less arm strength than a walker.

Stability: Rollators are more stable on uneven ground. When you use a rollator, you are leaning on the device for the entire walk.

Brakes: Because it has wheels, a rollator also has brakes. Walkers don’t have brakes.

Seat: A rollator has a seat for resting. Walkers don’t have seats.

Storage: Both walkers and rollators can hold bags and baskets for storage. Rollators also have room under the seat for another store location.

Quasi Wheelchair: One rollator variation is a partial wheelchair. A helper can push you while you sit. But unlike a wheelchair, you cannot propel yourself forward while sitting. Walkers have no seat or wheels, and cannot be used as wheelchairs.

How to Choose a Rollator Questions and Answers
Feature
Walker
Rollator
You can hold it in front of you
Yes
Yes
It has rubber feet
Yes
No
It has wheels
No
Yes
It can have three legs
Yes
Yes
It can have four legs
Yes
Yes
You can add a pouch, bag, or basket
Yes
Yes
You can add a pouch, bag, or basket
Yes
Yes
It has brakes
No
Yes
It works well indoors
Yes
Yes
It works well outdoors
Possibly
Yes
Requires some arm strength
More
Less
Can have a seat
No
Yes
Can be a temporary wheelchair
No
Only the Rollator Transport version

People Also Ask

What is a Rolling Walker, or Wheeled Walker? A rolling walker (or “wheeled walker”) is a walker-rollator combination. It’s partly a rollator with wheels, and partly a walker with rubber feet.

What is the difference between a rollator and a rolling walker? The rolling walker has wheels on the front legs, and rubber feet on the back legs.

This design has the stability of a walker. It’s also faster because it has wheels.

You have to lift a walker to use it. You do not have to lift a rolling walker. You push a rolling walker like a rollator. But you get extra stability from the rubber-footed legs.

Can You Rent a Rollator? Scootaround rents mobility devices including rollators. You can read more here. The online booking rents for one month at a time maximum. Call Scootaround for rental outside listed locations, and for longer booking times. Many mobility companies rent equipment locally. To find a rollator rental in your area, google Can I Rent a Rollator? and then add your location name to the search box.

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About Caroline Bogart

Hello. My name is Caroline Bogart. I am a programmer, writer, and web developer. I build free websites for animal rescues. I was once featured in the Boston Globe. I am obssessed ways to avoid falling, saying mobile, and aging in place.

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