Do I Need a Walker or a Rollator?

Do I Need a Walker or a Rollator?

People of all ages can suffer with mobility issues, and these include not just difficulty walking, but also people who have balance or fatigue issues. If you’re suffering with any of these problems and have decided you need assistance walking, a good walker or rollator might be the perfect product for you.

Walkers and rollators are alike in many ways and different in many others, so it is up to you to get the facts and decide for yourself which one would work best for you.

Both walkers and rollators are easy to operate, comfortable, and affordable, especially since insurance is likely to pay for most or all of the costs associated with the devices. Even if you want a walker or rollator simply because you tire easily, it is still a smart product to own.

The type of product you choose will depend on factors such as your upper body strength, the amount of time you spend getting out and about, and your ability to handle a product that consists of wheels.

What Is a Walker?

A walker is a device that you have to lift up and down to help you walk. Unlike a rollator, which can simply be pushed along wherever you need to go, a walker is a basic device that has handles and a sturdy frame.

If you’re not set on breaking any speed records, a walker is the best choice for you. It is a bit slower than a rollator, but depending on your disability, this is usually a good thing.

If you’re confused as to which product to choose, it is always best to talk to your doctor. Your medical professional can assist you in finding the product that will best suit your needs, but suffice to say that both a walker and a rollator are great for giving you a much more mobile lifestyle. As a general rule, if you are unable to walk from your bedroom to the bathroom, a walker is likely the best choice for you.

Types of Walkers

There are many types of walkers on the market, but the overall design is the same: a strong frame and handle bars for the person to grip. The four most common types of walkers include:

Basic Walkers

These are usually available in both standard and heavy-duty sizes, with the latter being the best choice for individuals who are a little on the heavy side.


Yes, walking canes classify as walkers because they assist you while walking and make the task much easier. Canes can be ergonomically designed and come with a regular tip or a three- or four-point end that provides for a little more stability.


These are walkers with wheels that you can simply push along as you walk from one location to another.

Wheeled Walkers

These are walkers with wheels and are best suited for outdoor use, as opposed to the standard walkers that are made for indoor use only.

What Is a Rollator?

RollatorOnce again, rollators are simply walkers that have wheels, but they are much more than that. Rollators usually have a seat that allows the person to stop and sit down when he or she feels fatigued or tired. If you have a lot of trouble getting around and suffer with extreme immobility, a rollator might not be the best choice for you.

However, they still provide a high degree of stability for the patient and have wheels on all four legs, as opposed to walkers that usually have up to two wheeled legs only.

In addition, rollators can have different sizes of wheels and can even include pouches or compartments made to hold various items, including water bottles and medications. This means that with a rollator, you can walk part of the time and use it as a wheelchair at other times, making it perfect for a variety of patients.

Related: Guide to Buying the Best Rollator Walker

Types of Rollators

Just like walkers, rollators come in various types and designs, and some of those designs include the following:

Three-Wheel Rollators

These products contain one wheel in the front and two wheels in the back.

Four-Wheel Rollators

These have four legs and each of the legs has a wheel at the tip; usually there are two wheels in the front and two wheels in the back of the device.

Bariatric Rollators

Designed to support bariatric patients and those who prefer options such as baskets, larger seats, and even brakes.

Hemi Rollators

These rollators are specifically made for small and petite users.

In fact, rollators come with so many options nowadays that it will feel like they made yours just for you and no one else. The extra heavy-duty ones are made for larger individuals and have stainless steel-reinforced frames that ensure the device will last for a very long time. The wheels also come in various sizes and, therefore, you can easily choose the one that is the most comfortable.

Walker or Rollator: What to Choose

Once again, speaking with your doctor is the best way to determine whether you should choose a walker or a rollator when you’re immobile. Both devices are used either temporarily or permanently and can accommodate people of many different weights and statures, but your doctor may have a preference when it comes to choosing one or the other.

If your doctor has no preference, you may just want to take into consideration how the devices will be used. Remember that walkers have to be used sort of in a “manual” way; in other words, you have to physically lift it up and move it to the next spot in front of you. This can mean a slower travel time.

On the other hand, rollators provide faster movements because all you do is push it along as you walk, so if you want to make good time, a rollator is the way to go.

Finally, you can always visit a store for mobility aids and try each one out so that you get the right device in the end. If your doctor has no preference, it is up to you to decide which one will work best in the end.

When Is a Walker the Right Choice?

There are many ways to tell if you should choose a walker for your mobility issues. Some of the things to take into consideration include:

  • Will you need to navigate in smaller or tighter areas, instead of having a lot of room to move around in?
  • Have you been using a walking cane, but it now seems insufficient or even detrimental to your ability to walk?
  • Are you unable to walk on one or both of your legs; for instance, have you recently had hip- or knee-replacement surgery?
  • Are you mobile enough that you don’t need a wheelchair?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, a walker may be the perfect option for you. Otherwise, you may need to move up to a rollator.

When Is a Rollator the Right Choice?

If you think a rollator would be perfect for you, you should first ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you able to walk fairly well, but you get tired or worn-out easily?
  • Are you looking for a mobility device that will suit you both indoors and outdoors?
  • Do you have any problems with your balance?
  • Would you prefer a minimum of three wheels as opposed to two or none?

Answering “yes” to any of these questions could mean that you are ready for a rollator. Keep in mind that once again, rollators can be used both indoors and outdoors, while regular walkers are generally recommended for indoor use only.

Is a Rollator More Expensive?

Generally speaking, a rollator is more expensive than a standard walker, but it is worth it in the end because of all of the extra features it provides.

Rollators tend to have options that regular walkers usually don’t have, such as seats and baskets, making them a great choice when you’ve planned a day walking through the park or going to run errands.

Also keep in mind that most rollators can be adjusted, which means they are more individualized to meet your needs. If you travel a lot, you may wish to consider walkers and rollators that are foldable, because this one feature can save you a lot of time and make things more comfortable in the long run.

In addition, comfort should be first and foremost when you’re researching and comparing different walkers and rollators, especially if you’re planning to use it on a regular basis.

So, even though rollators are a bit more expensive than regular walkers, their many features make choosing one of these devices a lot more practical in many ways. This is especially true if you’re a relatively active individual and aren’t completely immobile or in too much pain.

Finally, the cost of a rollator is usually covered at least in part by insurance, so if you’ve decided that you prefer a rollator and not a standard walker, you don’t have to let cost be the deciding factor.


Princila earned a Doctor of Medicine degree in 2006 and worked as a general practitioner for nearly two years before moving to Saudi Arabia. Her passion for writing took its toll, and she ended up switching careers to work in the medical publishing industry. She also has a passion for healthy food, which prompted her to take several online courses in nutrition and health offered by Wageningen University. Are you into research? You can connect with Princila on ResearchGate or LinkedIn. Visit our About page for details.

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