Monday, July 30, 2012

Walker Safety

Walkers are valuable tools that promote mobility.  They can help when a resident has poor balance (like after some strokes) or is weak.  But incorrect use can have disastrous results.  Here are some simple guidelines for helping residents use their walkers safely.

Right Walker

First, make sure the resident has the right walker.  There should be rubber hand grips and non-skid rubber tips or wheels on the legs.  A lightweight walker allows the resident to easily lift it over bumps or stairs.  Some have wheels on the front legs if the resident has trouble lifting the walker while walking.  Sturdy wheels are a must.  Other options are hand brakes, baskets for carrying and legs that are adjustable to varying heights. If the resident has a tendency to tip backwards, the height of the walker can be adjusted down slightly to redistribute his weight.

Starting Out

When getting up from a chair, put the walker directly in front of the chair.  Then have the resident slide forward in the chair, keeping the feet directly under him.  Then have the resident use the arms of the chair to slowly stand.  The resident should grasp the walker handles firmly and move forward into the center of the walker.  When walking, watch the resident to be sure he does not put the walker too far ahead of this body.


When the resident is ready to sit down, have him back up to the chair such that he can feel the chair on the back of his legs.  If one leg is weaker than the other, have the resident put his weight on the stronger leg.  The resident should keep one hand on the walker while the other reaches for the arm of the chair.  When he has a firm grasp, he should move the other arm to the chair, then lower himself down.

Remember, to be safe using a walker:
  • the resident must take small steps
  • he should never tilt or pull on the walker when getting up from a sitting position
  • chairs should have armrests
  • walkers should be examined routinely to be sure wheels and tips are secure and not worn down. 
This article was originally published in Pathways Residential Care Journal - Issue 3.  To download this issue in PDF format, or past issues, visit our newsletter archives online at

1 comment:

  1. I would say that choosing the right walker is the most important with educating the user coming in a close second. It always comes down to your technique when using a walker. If you place your weight away from the stability of the walker, you are bound to have an accident.