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Walking Frames for the elderly or the disabled

My mother requires a good quality walking frame, with a seat and a shopping basket. Can anybody recommend a brand of walking frames or a reputable shop in Melbourne that I could shop for one?

I purchased a walking frame for my mother recently, and while visiting the local chemist where I purchased one for $195.00 the previous day, one of its wheels fell off!

While that was disappointing it was both comical and convenient as I had purchased it the previous day, and I managed to get a complete refund of $195.00 without a receipt and no trouble obtaining my refund.

Can anyone help? Thanks.

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Most states have an Independent Living Centre where various models are on display and where occupational therapists are available to offer advice on the most suitable models for you. I have an Airgo walking frame which is very stable as it’s wider than normal. I believe it’s manufactured specifically for larger (bariatric) people (which I’m not) but I bought this model because I use it predominantly inside the home for sitting down to wash dishes etc and to scoot around whilst seated, as I have balance issues. It also has larger size swivelling wheels which make it extremely manoeuvrable. It has a carry basket under the seat. It has lasted for years, unlike some regular sized walking frames I’ve had in the past, and I would definitely recommend it.

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The good ones are not cheap. I was given a “Peak” brand recently (sadly, its too tall for me and cannot be made any shorter) and its really well built with a decent seat, and little bag for carting “stuff”. I’m giving it back to its original owner today (she hd bought it for her dad who passed away before he could use it)… I’m planning to get a small size in that, but as I say, not cheap by any means.

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Our mum has two. My dad had one.
Observational after our mum spent 2 months in rehab after a fall, and is now in aged care. Her section dining room looks like a supermarket parking lot except they are walkers and not cars.

Unfortunately there are too many businesses selling mobility aids without good sales support! There is an incredible variety in styles and variations in quality evident.

The best advice is to look first at how, where, when, why your mum is going to use the walker. What are her current abilities and limitations? Our mum progressed from having a walker as a convenience and useful aid in place of a walking stick, or hanging off the back of the shopping trolley. There is a point at which without a walker or rail to hold mobility ceases. Our mum learnt the hard way.

Other advice if not done already is to use an OT and Physio to assist with the decision making, advice, and retraining of the elderly user. Yes, we think we know how, it’s just a push trolley. Our mum’s time in rehab showed us just how hard it can be to retrain the older brain cells.

As where to buy and brands, we now have a list of local businesses who specialise in selling just mobility aids. We have been to each and kicked tyres to learn about the staff, sales approaches and stock options. We’ve made a few guided purchases with great success. For our mum’s lift recliner chair there was much research. We received some advice from other’s in a similar situation (you meet like minds when visiting aged care). Most importantly we take our mum with us to test drive all the options. On the more expensive purchases the better stores offer hire, trial & purchase, in home delivery and install. Even a range of quality used.

If she ever needs a new or different walker, we will use the advice of the physio before taking her to our preferred store. We suspect next might be a wheel chair to suit when she is out with us.

With walker quality they seem to vary. A $2 shop style, the Kmart very day bike standard, or a range of $500 plus exotics that may or may not be ideal. The more expensive models appear to cater for more individual needs. EG bigger wheels for more outdoors, wider frames for broader shoulders, adjustable seats, heavier users, etc. There is nothing stylish about a walker, but some do catch the eye. For our mum the operation of the brakes on her cheaper basic model is now proving difficult - arthritis.

Walkers are just not walkers. One size does not fit all. The basic models which all look similar may suit. Both my dad and our mum found difficulty with the brake handles. Look carefully.

Good luck and hope you find a suitable walker.

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Does the frame need arm support? Do you want 4 wheel, two wheel with the other two as just legs? Do you really want a walker rather than a frame? This detail may help get recommendations based on the more detailed need.

As a general brand I like fhc (Freedom Healthcare) stuff. https://www.mwd.com.au/

An example:

https://ilcaustralia.org.au/products/14319

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Hre’s how I work it out (for me!). When I am a bit unsteady on my pegs, I need stability. That can be got from a wheelie walker or a frame with wheels at the front which brakes when pushed down on, or from a standard zimmer frame (pretty useless for me, personally) If I need to put much weight on the frame, it should NOT be the 4 wheel walker. It needss to be the push down type. Its safer. I have my stick for now, which I use for stability when I need it, which is not all the time. I also have crutches for when I cannot weight bear on one or other foot (oh I do wish the cat would learn to do the shopping and cook!)

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An occupational therapist (OT) is able to help you to work out what is needed.
There are OTs at the Independent Living Centres.
You may also be able to access advice from an OT specific to your needs via whatever the Commonwealth home and commuity care organisation is called these days.

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