Gadgets and walking aids to help you get out and about

A look at some of the gadgets and aids to help people with disabilities and mobility problems get out and about.



Walking sticks

They come in many shapes and sizes – from lightweight folding to orthopaedic ones with moulded handles.

The most important factor when choosing is the correct height. Your local mobility store can measure you and adjust your stick accordingly.

As a guide, when you’re standing upright with your arms by your sides, the top of the stick should be level with the bump at the bottom of the wrist bone – too high and you may not have the correct support; too low could cause you to stoop.

Guide to gadgets to make sitting comfortable.

Walkers

The wheeled walker was invented by a British company called Uniscan and can be a real boon. There are two main types: the three-wheeler and the four-wheeler that comes with a seat. They can be either steel or aluminium, the latter being much easier to transport.

They have brakes on the handles, are foldable, have a shopping basket and are ideally suited for walking about town. 

Check the wheel size. The smaller ones are designed for level, flat surfaces and the bigger ones can cope with slightly rougher terrain. Uniscan products are top of the range but you can get cheaper imports.

If you are taking one with you in cars, buses or trains take account of the weight and, if using a frame, consider a fold-up model that can fit in the back of a two-door car and is easy to store.

Never forget your keys with our guide to gadgets to stop you losing things.

Shoppers

No need to struggle on kerbs or steps as there is now a six-wheel shopping trolley, which has a clever articulated design that glides up any step or staircase. You can also get ones with a fixed frame that you can sit on if you need a rest. 

The Sholley is the market leader with one of the safest designs and smoothest running wheels. It also looks stunning.

Wheelchairs

Two main types: transit (small wheels on the back) and self-propelled (big wheels on the back). Both come in steel or aluminium. 

Think about tyres: whether you want solid and puncture-proof or pneumatic that need to be pumped up. 

It is essential for the person who’ll be using the chair to try it and be comfortable. I recommend a wheelchair cushion if it is being used for more than a few hours. Make sure the footplates are at the correct height so that you are sitting level. 

Check the weight limit and the width: most can carry between 16 and 18-stone, and make sure you get the right size. Larger ones are available which can carry more than 25-stone. 

Kitchen aids to make tasks easier.

Scooters

For people who can’t get out on foot, a scooter can restore their freedom. There are three categories.

  • Fold-up, car boot scooters.
  • Mid-sized "go from home".
  • Large "go from home".

When choosing, consider the following (although you may have other, personal considerations too):

  • How far will you be likely to travel each day?
  • How much do you weigh?
  • Will you use it in town or the countryside or both?
  • Do you need to be able to put it in the car easily?
  • Does it need to fit through a certain-sized door or gap?

Read our guide to choosing a mobility scooter.

Your local British Healthcare Trades Association-registered mobility dealer should be able to advise. 

It is essential to try a scooter before you buy to make sure you get the correct type for your needs and get proper training on how to use it.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.