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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, including: 

1. Mobility scooters
2. Wheelchairs
3. Walking sticks
4. Walking frames

If you think your relative or friend would benefit from equipment or home adaptations, it's a good idea to get an assessment from the local authority for equipment needs. 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.

The links on this page are to the Which? product reviews for staying independent 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. 

Wheelchairs

Choosing a wheelchair: whether your relative needs a manual or powered wheelchair, here is information about what you both need to consider when making your choice. Drive controls, batteries and storage and how to customise a wheelchair are all areas that we cover in this guide.

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

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

Walking sticks

How to use a walking stick: 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.

Walking frames

Zimmer frames and rollators: Zimmer frames are for someone who needs more support than that offered by one or even two walking sticks. Non-wheeled walking frames - known as rollators - offer the most stability, especially if it has four rather than three legs, and they are height-adjustable too and available in different widths. 

If your relative is still able to leave the home, wheeled walkers provide additional support and some have the advantage of a seat and storage to carry shopping, so there are yet more choices to be made.

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

Which? guide to helping loved ones in later life

If you are looking for ways to help a relative stay living at home for longer, or need to find out about the different care options available, this downloadable guide explains your choices and how to find out more. It offers an introduction to choosing sheltered or residential care, plus advice on choosing the best products to aid independent living.

Page last reviewed: November 2016
Next review due: February 2019