When You Need a Walker or Rollator

When it comes to getting the right mobility aid, it can be quite confusing. Between all of the different terms and types of aids out there, knowing what you actually need can be rather tricky. This is especially true when it comes to walkers and rollators.

Walkers VS Rollators – What’s The Difference?

The first thing that you need to know when looking at walkers and rollators is what makes them different; the wheels.

Basically, a walker has a total of four legs that all touch the ground. When you are moving around, those four legs need to be lifted up by raising the walker. A rollator works very differently because it has wheels.

In short, the rollator has four wheels at the bottom of the legs, meaning that you don’t need to lift it up in order to move around. That’s why it is commonly referred to as a “rolling walker”. Many even come with seats built in as well! The wheels also pivot in place, allowing you to manoeuvre around with relative ease. However, rollators are generally much bigger and wider than a walker. This means that navigating around densely packed rooms or tight corridors can be difficult.

Walkers VS Rollators – What Is A Walker?

Okay, so we’ve touched on the difference between a walker and a rollator, but let’s look at each one in a bit more detail. After all, if you want to know whether you need a walker or a rollator, you need to know what they both are.


A walker is a frame with four legs that are designed to help support your balance as you move around. The most famous type of walker is the zimmer frame, which is what a lot of people still call them to this day. They need to be lifted up and down in order to move forward, meaning that you need to be able to grip onto a walker and lift it with your arm strength.

  • Walkers can support balance and partially support body weight.
  • Various accessories are available to help with movement.
  • Walkers do not have a place for you to sit down.

Walkers VS Rollators – What Is A Rollator?

A rollator, as mentioned earlier, is different because it features wheels at the end of the legs. Sometimes referred to as rolling walkers, they allow you to move forward without the need to lift them up.


A rollator has a different type of frame than a walker, with every leg having a pivoting wheel at the end, and space for a seat being incorporated into the frame’s design. This makes it much easier to move around with. However, because of this different style of frame, the rollator is unable to offer support for balance.

  • Rollators feature wheels are the end of each leg.
  • Rollators typically have a seat built into their frame.
  • Rollators do not need to be lifted in order to move around.
  • Rollators should not be used to support body weight or help with your balance.

Walkers VS Rollators – Which One Do I Need?

So now that we have discussed the difference between walkers and rollators, let’s take a look at which one is right for you.

A walker, whilst not as easy to move forward due to needing to lift them up, are generally much better at holding your weight if you have trouble with balance. This is because the walker’s legs all touch the floor directly, making it more stable. This partial support for your weight can happen both when you are walking around and also when you are standing still.

On the other hand, Rollators aren’t able to offer as much stability and support if you have difficulty keeping your balance or find it hard to stand up.

If you need stable support when moving around, then you should use a walker. On the other hand, a rollator is great if you can hold your balance but need to be able to sit down regularly or have a place to carry your necessities.

A rollator is also very good if your arms or grip is weak. Since you need to be able to lift a walker up and move it forward before you can step forward yourself, using a walker relies on your arm strength and grip. This isn’t the case with a rollator, as you can simply push the rollator forward as you move.

Walkers VS Rollators – What About Hybrids?

There are actually hybrid walkers that attempt to make the best of both worlds. These feature two legs at the back that touch the ground, and two at the front with wheels on. This means that, when moving around, you only need to partially lift the walker to move forward.

As the two wheels at the front of the hybrid walker are able to carry the walker’s weight, this makes walking around much easier on the arms. On top of this, hybrid rolling walkers can partially support balance and weight. However, you need to be careful as the wheels at the front can roll forward at a swift pace if you put too much weight and strain on them.

  • Hybrid rolling walkers feature two legs at the back and two wheels at the front.
  • Hybrid rolling walkers require less arm strength and grip to use.
  • Hybrid rolling walkers can partially support balance and body weight.

They typically don’t feature seats.

Hybrid rolling walkers tend to have smaller frames than rollators, making them easier to move around in narrow spaces.

Walkers VS Rollators – Choosing Between Them

Now that we have covered the different aspects of walkers, rollators and hybrid rolling walkers, the next step is decided which one you actually need.

If you need a mobility aid that can support your balance, and you are still able to grip onto and lift objects, then a walker would probably be best for you. On the other hand, if your balance is good but your arms are weak or you need to sit down often, a rollator would be the right choice.

However, if your arm strength isn’t what it used to be but you don’t need to sit down at regular intervals, then a hybrid rolling walker would probably be the best fit for you.

If you still need help in deciding whether you need a walker or a rollator, then why not take a look at our range of walkers and rollators, or feel free to call us on 01733 342242 or get in touch with us by email here. We are more than happy to help you work out what would be the best mobility aid for you.

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