You may know that your relative would benefit from a walking stick, walking frame or a mobility scooter, but how do you set about choosing one and then buying one?

On this page we introduce you to a few of the most common mobility aids that you might consider to help your elderly relative stay active.

If you think your relative or friend would benefit from equipment or home adaptations, it's a good idea to get an assessment for equipment needs done. If the physiotherapist decides that your loved one is in need of a walking aid or wheelchair, they may be able to get it on the NHS.

You can find more information about how to choose the right equipment and where to buy it in our guide to home care products and you can use our tips on safety and wellbeing in the home to help your relative or friend feel secure at home.

Mobility scooters

Choosing the right mobility scooter: Weighing up the benefits and disadvantages of a mobility scooter is a good starting place, even before you begin thinking about the best type of mobility scooter to suit your relative’s needs. Falling into two main categories – mobility scooters for the pavement and those for the road – we discuss the considerations for each. See also Mobility scooters - FAQs and How to buy the best mobility scooter for plenty of buying and hiring tips.

Walking sticks

Choosing and using walking sticks: From choice of material and shape of handle to information about folding, tripod and tetrapod walking sticks, we explain your choices in depth. We also tell you the various accessories that you can use with a walking stick and the techniques for using a walking stick effectively and safely.

'She got this fantastic off road electric wheelchair.' Tina's story

Walking frames

Walking frames and wheeled walkers: These styles of frame are ideal for someone who needs more support than that offered by a walking stick. Non-wheeled walking frames offer the most stability, especially if it has four rather than three legs, and they are height-adjustable too. For wheeled walking frames, there are yet more choices to be made, making our guide indispensable.


Choosing a wheelchair: Whether your relative needs a manual or powered wheelchair, we give you the low-down on what you both need to think about when making your choice. Drive controls, batteries and storage and how to customise a wheelchair are all areas that we cover in this guide.

Buying and hiring wheelchairs: There are several schemes that are available for buying and hiring wheelchairs. Whether it’s the NHS wheelchair service, the Motability scheme, Shopmobility or the Disabled Living Centres, we tell you about them all.

Shopping trolleys

Many older people benefit from using a wheeled trolley for carrying groceries and household items, as these remove the need to carry heavy bags. Although shopping trolleys are indeed useful, they are not designed to provide a great degree of support other than as a restful leaning point when taking a break from walking. Therefore, shopping trolleys should not be seen as a mobility aid in the same sense as the equipment listed above.

More information

  • Safety and well-being in the home: We give you advice on how to make your elderly or ill relative's home safe, including practical tips on lighting, trip hazards and fire safety.
  • Financing care at home: Read about the different options for funding care for your relative or friend.
  • Property downsizing: We explain the options for moving to a smaller property, including the benefits it could bring and when it may be suitable.

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2015
Next review due: 30 October 2016

Downloadable guide

Helping loved ones in later life is an introduction to the different care choices that are available. Perhaps you are looking for ways to help a relative to stay living at home, or it could be that one (or both) of your parents or a partner want to move into somewhere offering sheltered or residential care. We explain the choices and how to find out more.