Last Updated: February 11, 2024

A common obstacle that comes with getting older is difficulty with mobility, or the ability to move around freely and easily. Mobility challenges can arise as we age for a variety of reasons, including loss of muscle mass, weakened joints, dizziness, nerve issues, foot pain, certain medications, and confusion. 

Less mobility can lead to an increased risk of falls and injuries. However, plenty of mobility aids exist to help seniors reduce their risk of falling when moving around the house or outside. With a lowered risk of falls comes more independence and a higher quality of life for seniors. And isn’t that the ultimate goal as we age?  

There are numerous types of mobility aids and solutions available for seniors. Keep reading for explanations of the most common types of mobility aids and how to decide which to use.

Importance of Mobility Aids

woman with rollator petting cat

According to the CDC, more than 1 out of 4 people ages 65 and older has a fall each year. Furthermore, emergency departments treat 3 million seniors for injuries from falls yearly. Falling is the leading cause of accidents, serious injuries, and accidental deaths in seniors. Falls should always be taken seriously, as they can be a major threat to older adults’ health and independence. 

Understandably, falling is a common fear for many seniors, even if they have never fallen before. However, falls do not have to be inevitable with age. There are many ways to prevent or reduce a senior’s chance of falling, including through the use of mobility aids.

Choosing the Right Senior Mobility Aid

types of mobility aids for seniors

There are many different types of assistive aids and devices that offer varying levels of mobility support for seniors. 

In the past, such a wide variety of devices was not always available to the general public, and options were often limited. However, in the past few decades, a great deal of devices have become widely available for everyday use by seniors. 

Mobility aids provide stability and prevent falling when seniors are standing, walking, and reaching in their everyday life. It is important to choose the right device based on the senior’s level of mobility and the intended use. Below are some of the most commonly-used mobility aids for seniors, along with some of their advantages and disadvantages.

Canes

types of canes

Canes are some of the most widely used and available mobility aids in the U.S. There are a number of different types of canes available to the public. Canes are a relatively simple walking aid and therefore are generally a cost-effective option.

Single point canes are a type of walking assistance aid intended for people with light to moderate walking difficulties. They give the user an additional point of contact with the floor, providing more stability. These canes help with balance and relieve pressure on joints, making it easier for the user to move around.

Another kind of cane is called a quad cane, which has four tips and therefore provides a broader base of support. They are also great for people who have light to moderate walking difficulties, but who require slightly more help with balance than a single-point cane can provide. As an added benefit, quad canes can stand on their own, which gives the user more freedom to use their hands. However, it is important to note that these canes can be slightly heavier to use.

Canes come in a number of different styles. No matter which one you pick, make sure it has a wide rubber tip to prevent slipping. Also, make sure to get a cane that is the proper height. In general, when holding the cane, your elbow should have a comfortable bend of about 15-20 degrees. Ask your doctor or physical therapist to help you pick the right cane for you.

 

Walkers

walker

Photo Credit: Performance Health

As the name states, walkers are another type of walking assistance aid. They are the next step up from canes in terms of support level. Walkers can have wheels, rubber tips, or tennis balls to help with traction and movement on the floor. 

Walkers are best for people who need stability but have trouble lifting a cane or staying balanced while standing up. They are also good for people who sometimes experience periods of dizziness or confusion. Keep in mind that users need to have decent upper-body mobility to maneuver a walker. 

Studies have shown that being an early adopter of a walker can significantly lower the chance of a fall. So while some seniors may be reluctant to use walkers, these tools can majorly improve their independence in the long run.

 

Rollators

rollator

Photo Credit: Simply Medical

Rollators are another type of mobility aid specifically for walking assistance. Rollators are wheeled walkers that also have seats and hand brakes. These devices are best for people who need to sit down and rest frequently, or for those who have difficulty walking longer distances.

Rollators are often easier to maneuver than walkers and usually provide the user with more speed. But, they may not be best for people with severe balance issues, as traditional walkers provide more traction.

 

Manual Wheelchairs

wheelchair

Photo Credit: Amazon

Wheelchairs are mobility devices that have four wheels — two large and two small — and a seat with a backrest. They are common mobility aids for people who are unable to walk on their own, but still have some upper body strength to turn the wheels. They come in a variety of shapes, styles, and sizes to suit different users’ preferences and needs.

Since manual wheelchairs do require some upper body strength to operate, assistance pushing the wheelchair might be needed from a family member, friend, or caregiver. However, manual wheelchairs are a relatively affordable option, especially when compared to power wheelchairs. They are also usually more lightweight and easier to maintain.

 

Power Wheelchairs

power wheelchair

Photo Credit: Mobility Works

Power wheelchairs are battery-powered wheelchairs with six wheels for added stability. They are a great mobility option for people who do not have the upper body strength to maneuver a manual wheelchair, or do not have a regular caregiver to help them. Because of this, they offer more independence and autonomy than a regular wheelchair. 

Power wheelchairs can be used indoors or outdoors. Varieties exist with tighter turn radiuses and are designed specifically for use in the home. Others are designed to be more heavy-duty and suited for different terrains.

Note that while they offer a higher level of support, power wheelchairs are a more costly option than standard wheelchairs or other mobility devices. 

 

Power Scooters

power scooter

Photo Credit: Top Mobility

Power scooters, also called electric mobility scooters, are electronically-powered chairs that users can drive around. They are similar to wheelchairs but are built like a motor scooter. Power scooters are ideal for people who have limited strength and trouble walking long distances, but still have some upper body mobility and upright posture. 

Scooters can cover a larger range of terrain than power wheelchairs, but they do have a wider turning radius. Because of their larger size and trouble in tight areas, power scooters might not be best for seniors who need mobility assistance at home. Instead, they are more ideal for usage outdoors, in public places, or in senior living communities with wide hallways and large rooms. 

How Much Do Mobility Aids Cost?

old woman on power scooter

For people paying out of pocket, mobility aids are available at almost all price points. For example, standard canes will usually cost between $15 to $35. High-quality walkers and rollators are slightly more expensive and can fall within the $40 to $200 range depending on features and materials. 

Powered mobility aids such as power scooters and power wheelchairs are the most costly to pay for out of pocket. The price can begin at $1,000 and can increase to $4,000 for higher-quality models.

How Do I Pay for Mobility Devices?

older woman in wheelchair with daughter

Some of the best ways to pay for mobility devices are with health insurance, government programs and assistance, with the help of various foundations, or out of pocket.

Depending on the specific provider, mobility concern, and policy, many mobility aid purchases can be covered partially or fully by insurance. It is required that a physician signs off on the mobility aid to certify the need for the device.

There are some other ways to acquire mobility aids for people who cannot afford them. For example, Medicare and Social Security have different programs available for seniors in need of mobility devices. Veterans Assistance benefits can also help cover the cost of assistive mobility equipment. 

Certain charities and foundations such as the Numotion Foundation and the American Outreach Foundation can often help people get wheelchairs and mobility aids for no cost, as well.  

For a longer list of grants available for people with disabilities in need of mobility aids, click here.  For a list specific to Florida, click here. And don’t forget to research local groups and foundations in your area that may be able to provide mobility aids at no cost. 

Ways to Maintain Mobility

old man and woman walking with cane

It is very beneficial to maintain your mobility as you age. The best way to remain mobile in your later years is to stay active and practice certain mobility skills regularly. 

Some ideas for maintaining mobility include walking, stretching, participating in low-impact cardio workouts, doing balance and coordination exercises, practicing good posture, and following a proper diet. 

Florida seniors have an advantage with nice, sunny weather year round, making it easy to get moving and stay active outdoors.

Next Steps

group of old people smiling with 2 doctors

Mobility aids can be life-changing for seniors who have trouble moving around on their own. They help prevent dangerous falls, provide reassurance about safety, and allow seniors to stay independent for longer. 

There are plenty of mobility aid varieties available for people with different needs, preferences, and budgets. Talk to a healthcare professional about the type of mobility aid that is best suited for you or your senior relative. 

Need further reassurance about your or your loved one’s safety? It might be time to consider a senior living community. 

Whether you are looking for a maintenance-free, social lifestyle in an independent living community, some assistance with daily tasks in an assisted living community, or care at home, Florida Senior Consulting can help make it happen.

With decades of experience, our team of senior care experts will help you find the perfect community in sunny Florida to stay safe and live your best life. 

From touring communities, dealing with the moving process, and even checking in regularly after the move, we’ll handle the transition every step of the way. 

Let us do the hard part so you can focus on enjoying your golden years in the Sunshine State. 

Call us at (800) 969-7176 or visit FloridaSeniorConsulting.com to learn more about how we can help. Our services are at no cost to you.

Contact Florida Senior Consulting

(800) 969-7176