Living & Mobility Aids Buying Guide

Being able to get around independently is an essential part of our lives that many of us take for granted. If you should ever find yourself immobile or unable to get around unassisted, then it's re-assuring to know that there's a vast array of mobility aids available to help you get out and about. By using a mobility aid, you'll be able to re-gain your independence and do all the things you want to do, such as going to the shops, visiting family and going on holiday. If you're buying a mobility aid for the first time, it's advisable to consult your doctor first to determine exactly which aid will best suit your requirements.

Walking Sticks

The simplest kind of walking aid available, easy to use and very portable, walking sticks are an ideal way to get greater stability and independance for anyone who has difficulty walking. Use of a walking stick can also help stability when getting in and out of chairs, beds etc., allowing the user to support the weight of their body. Choose a folding walking stick for ultimate portability.

Some walking sticks are height adjustable - otherwise choose a stick that is the same height as the distance from your wrist to the floor.

Some models of walking stick have an integral seat which can be unfolded if required for short rests when out and about using the stick.

Walking Frames / Rollators

Walking frames and rollators are sturdy, wheeled walking frames which can provide confidence and assistance to anyone experiencing mobility issues, or loss of stamina or strength when walking.

By increasing stability and balance, rollators can help prevent falls or accidents which can in turn lead to long-term mobility problems. Designed to help maintain mobility and independence, for use in the home and for short distances outdoors. Maximum weight supported is usually around 25 stone - refer to manufacturers specifications for guidance.

Walkers can be three or four-wheeled (sometimes called tri-walkers or quad-walkers). Three-wheeled models are more manoeuvrable, and provide extra support for walking around indoors, or over shorter distances outdoors. Four-wheeled models provide greater stability, and tend to be better for more heavyweight use - ideal for anyone needing greater walking support, particularly outdoors.

  • optional fold-out seat
  • height adjustable handles
  • can usually be folded for easy storage
  • suitable for indoor or outdoor use
  • look for a lightweight model for maximum portability

For anyone who struggles to walk further than a short distance unaided, a wheelchair may be more appropriate to aviod risk of falls / injury.

Wheelchairs

There are many things to consider when buying a wheelchair. Selecting the right one means considering all the factors and ensuring you get a wheelchair that really caters for your needs.

Push Wheelchairs

Push wheelchairs are lightweight wheelchairs, which must be pushed by a friend or carer. Push wheelchairs are designed with smaller rear wheels to make it easier to push. Push wheelchairs usually fold and fit easily inside a car boot. The lightweight nature of these wheelchairs means they are most suitable for occasional use.

Self-Propel Wheelchairs

Self-Propel Wheelchairs are designed to be pushed by the user for maximum independance. Ideal for regular day to day use, these are a more heavyweight chair with large rear wheels which allow the user to push themselves (although they usually have additional handles at the rear so they can also be pushed by a friend or carer). Generally, these are sturdier and more comfortable for regular use, and the large wheels means a smoother ride for the user.

Mobility Scooters

Mobility scooters are an excellent way to retain independence, allowing independant travel indoors and out. Easy to use, economical to run and easy to maintain and look after.

There are a great number of options available, with all kinds of features. To ensure you buy the best scooter for your needs, consider all the main features:

  • Size and weight - can vary, so consider where you will use and store your scooter
  • Portability: if you need to travel with it on public transport or in a car, consider smaller, lighter models
  • Usage - depending on how often you wish to use your mobility scooter, you may choose a lighter weight three-wheeled model. For more regular daily use, a four-wheeled scooter may be better.

Mobility scooters have different top speeds. Commonly, pavement scooters travel at maximum speeds of 4 or 6 miles per hour. Some mobility scooters have a higher maximum speed of 8mph, and can be used on the road as well as on the pavement. Roadworthy scooters have indicators, lights and require users to observe the Highway Code. No driving test is required to use a mobility scooter on the road however you must obtain a zero-duty tax disc to be road legal.

Mobility scooters require very little maintenance. Apart from daily charging of the battery, the only regular maintenance required is to keep the scooter clean and dry when not in use, and occasional checking of tyre pressures. Many accessories are available for mobility scooters, including ramps, storage covers, and shopping bags.

Types of Mobility scooter:

Mini folding mobility scooter

  • lightweight
  • easy to manoeuvre
  • ideal for short trips
  • easy to fold and store
  • portable - fits into a car boot
  • 3 or 4-wheeled models available

3-Wheel mobility scooter

  • easy to manoeuvre
  • ideal for moving around in restricted spaces
  • additional leg room

4-Wheel mobility scooter

  • increased stability
  • more durable
  • smoother ride over uneven surfaces and rougher terrain