Has anyone used a rollator (wheeled walker with seat)?

At the grand old age of 35 I am finding it harder to ignore the pain and work through it (not that I should have been doing that anyway). Overdoing it has bigger consequences than it used to.  I am finally having an OT come to visit next week. My mum arranged for one to visit in my late teens and I had a huge hissy fit. "There's nothing wrong with me." errm "yes there is." Teenage sugarmouse storms off to her bedroom and plays A-HA's take on me full blast over and over till the neighbours beg for respite. Don't peddle your tap turners round here I am 18 and living in denial.

I am having to think seriously about the future now. Having had RA for so long it's likely I will need some joint replacements as I get older but would like to stave that off as long as possible. But it's still so hard to admit that I need things that well "old people use" (not my partner who is 70 and in perfect health). RA is so b****y ageing. I was in agony getting something out of the oven the other day but was so stubborn I wouldn't accept help. My daughter has grown up with her mum's stubborn independence and as a result now is very reluctant to do anything to help. It's a fine line between making her understand that I am in pain and tired and could genuinely use the help but not wanting her to worry about me unnecessarily.

It took me ages to decide to get a walking stick and it's really helped but it's hard to co-ordinate with my shopping trolley. I thought the trolley would help but to be honest I just over pack it and then lugging it around the town and on and off the bus makes me worse. I shouldn't be doing it. I have looked at rollators (wheeled walkers with seats) they don't have much space for shopping but they do have a seat and the buses by me are not reliable and many stops don't have seating or have those dreadful benches that tilt.

Does anyone have experience using a rollator? Are they any good? Do they hurt your wrists at all? Do you need it more for balance or seating or both? How do you carry shopping? Did you try some out first? I never buy anything before getting loads of advice first.

23 Replies

  • I always recommend that before anyone buys any kind of walking aid (even a cane), they ask for a mobility assessment.  That way you will get really good advice about the different kinds of aids that you could use, and get to try them out.  You also get shown how to use them properly.   Some will be supplied free as well by the NHS if appropriate, so it may save you money.  The other thing is that they will then be adjusted perfectly to your height and needs.   As far as grip, etc goes, there are many types of grip and brakes on rollators, so a good physio or mobility assessment place will be able to show you what is available.  If you go to a commercial place (rather than NHS physios), remember you don't have to buy what they have in stock or show you, but at least it should give you a good idea of what to then look for yourself. A disability showroom may also be able to hire you one to try out for yourself.

  • Great advice from earthwatch. 

    Funnily enough I met someone just the other day who was using one - I would say she was probably in her early fifties at the most. Definitely one of the youngest people I have seen using one. We had a conversation about it - I held a door open for her and she started to talk about it - my husband has arthritis and a very dodgy hip and a dreadful limp as he walks I said I thought he could do with using a stick but he won't he won't have one.

    Anyway this lady said she was waiting for a new hip and that she thought her rollator was a far better aid than a stick because it let her walk much more normally and sure enough I saw her on two different days and watching her I could see what she meant, her weight was very well balanced as she walked, no leaning to one side with each step. She also mentioned the fact it was 'braked', 

    Like you I don't think  she particularly liked having to use it but she said it was definitely preferable to using a stick,  so bearing in mind what this lady said I think you might find it very good. Good luck anyway.

  • I have a friend who is under 50 and she has one and she has a scooter as well.xxx

  • I'm 35 and can't remember ever seeing anyone my age using one, but then they might have been and I might not have noticed.

  • Can't say I have either I've seen people using them but I've never really paid any attention to their age - it's probably something you don't think about until it happens to you. That's one of the reasons I can't understand why people have to stare or make comments about people using them. People use all sorts of mobility aids - so what it really isn't anyone else's business.

  • My physio persuaded me to get one with a seat so I could go to painting sessions in a studio where they had wonky tables and chairs. It's been really useful although I've been very resistant. I can only do any distance with one and it's useful to be able to sit down from time to time, though I usually park it against a wall with brakes on. 

    I'd really recommend one. I haven't found it particularly hard on wrists. 

    Hope this helps


    Incidentally earth witch is right, the physio adjusted it for me

  • Pinksugarmouse i haven't used one of those,but i have a scooter of the mobility kind and when i first got it i hated it,still do to be honest,but it has given me my independence which means i can go out on my own if i need to and i have another one that goes in the car so when we go out i am able to visit places which without it i couldn't.    My big one i got secondhand so didn't cost that much,my car one was got new. Try any out before you buy and see if you get on with them. I think you might be better off with a scooter as it will enable to go out for longer.xxxxx

  • Agree with all of you.  I hate it though when people look at your feet then your legs as if looking to see why you need such an item.  I just stare back and they look the other way usually embarrassed.  I can understand your feeling sugarmouse as I played for ages at not having anything.  Have a look in the shops so you get a feel for what is there and don't buy.  NHS is quite good at lending items.  Make a list of the troubles you have first, show it to the OP and see if there is anything else that might be useful.  Toilet seat raised is a boom. 

  • Depends on how many joints are affected and what you want to achieve.  I went for a mobility scooter and although  I hated using it I could go further and go out with the family easier.   My shoulders and hands were affected so sticks etc were uncomfortable.  Would where you want to go be accessible on a scooter instead of the bus although not so good in wet weather.  Farm

  • A scooter would be a lot more expensive and I want to walk more. I can walk pretty well most of the time but slowly and I tire easily Also I use buses regularly and have enough trouble trying to get a trolley on. A scooter would be near impossible. The town is too far away for me to just use a scooter to get there. I can borrow a scooter at my local shopping centre if I need to but obviously there are restrictions on where I am allowed to take it.

  • I bought myself one as developed femoral nerve pain and could only manage a few steps. With treatment that has eased but when out anywhere the rollator is a boon. Can be a bit sore on my shoulders but to be able to have a seat is great. I felt embarrassed at first but the only person I'm hurting is myself if I don't use it. I am older than you but felt I was too young for it, silly me. It allows me to carry a few things and have a seat when I need one. Mine was not expensive and VAT free, good luck x

  • I was given one by the OT and was amazed at the difference it made. I got through 3 in about 5 months which I put down to the very uneven and rough paths in the area.  In the end I bought my own special 'cross country' model. Sometimes I have to rest every few yards, but it means I can do so much more for myself and gives me more independence.

  • With reluctance I got a rollator with advice from an OT and I am very happy with it!  I get a lot of pain especially with walking and standing so being able to stop and sit down wherever I want is a great relief. The only problem I have with it, is uneven pavements as I will be walking then suddenly the rollator hits the pavement and my knee goes into it, but I am a bit more wary now and try to take care.  Also sometimes I find it a bit tricky going up steep kerbs! It hurt my shoulders at first but thats because I had the handles at too high a height but it's okay now since I had it adjusted. Wrists are ok. It's great for shopping and even though the bag that is attached to it, is not that large, I can hang a plastic shopping bag over the handle. The only thing that I find is that I feel very self conscious as I hate being like this and even with the walking sticks I feel the same but that is something that I have to deal with.  I say to myself that the rollator is an aid to help me to get around to do the things I want or need to do.  On some days I also use two sticks, depends on what I am doing but I find the sticks hurt my wrists and elbows so now I will be having a physio assessment for that. I do not regret getting  a rollator, its been very useful although I do feel shy using it and I do notice some not very nice looks from some people but its not all the time, other times people are very nice and will hold the door open for me  and smile. I am glad that I got one in the end! 

  • It's awful isn't it that you should find people staring. Just so rude. I smiled when you said about holding doors open - that's exactly how I got into conversation with the lady who explained all about her and because of that conversation I was able to pass on her advice to pinksugarmouse :)

  • Have  been trying to remember how I managed at your age as have had trouble with my knees for years (had a TKR last year at 48) but the answer is not helpful.  I had children at 33 and 35 so had a pushchair for quite a few years when out and about.   The independence bit is familiar but have accepted that if I have made the effort to make something it will not help anybody especially myself if I drop it getting it out of the oven just because of asking someone to help.  Now setting the table and getting food to it is a family job not just mine therefore it is an everyday thing and not just when I am at my worst and if I choose to take the heavier dish or lightest it is not noticed.   Farm

  • I don't want to spend a fortune and I have seen some for under £50. I am thinking ahead for the spring (if it ever decides to appear) and summer. I like to walk to the park with my partner but get tired part way there and back. I can use my stick but I use that mostly to try and get other people to be more patient and considerate. It doesn't really help all that much with my walking and I can't really lean on it when I am waiting around because it would put too much pressure through my wrist (despite it having a fisher handle). My partner and daughter and I visited Worcester a couple of times last summer and I ended up having to get up and down off grass using my inflamed knees and painful wrists. Not great, but there was nowhere else to sit. If I had one of these I would always have a seat. It might mean taking fewer painkillers and slowing down the damage to my joints.

    My balance isn't that bad except when I am tired and in pain, then I am in tears. But I think I would still feel like a fraud using it, because I can walk without it. But then I can go without my wrist splints but it's a hell of a lot better if I use them. We aren't just supposed to look after our joints from short term pain but for the long term future and anything that can help with that can only be a good thing.

  • Would rollator with backpack work? But delivery of lots of shopping. 

  • I tried using a backpack but constantly taking it off and putting it on again just didn't agree with my wrists. My partner has agreed that we will organise the shopping so that I don't have to go and buy heavy or large amounts of shopping on my own.

  • But I am still considering a rollator for the joy of having a seat whenever I need one. Which is often.

  • I really enjoyed ordering weekly shop online and you can get it without endless plastic bags now

  • I use a rollator to walk around the supermarket, I find that I end up with pains in my wrists and top of my arms when I get home. The continuous gripping affects my wrists and fingers, so think carefully before you use one. You may be different to me, but just letting you know how I get on with it.

  • Thanks sheels, this is helpful. One of my most problematic joints is my left wrist so knowing what impact it might have on my hands is very important. My walking stick has a fisher handle which is really gentle on arthritic hands. Have you tried it with splints? Do you think they would make enough of a difference?

  • Yes I have tried, I think my wrists and shoulders hurt because I dont use my rollator every day. Its like doing exercise after a stint of sitting. things hurt and ache, dont let me put you off we are all different. good luck. 

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