Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer Content

7 Mobility Devices for Older Adults That Help Improve Independence


Mobility issues are common among older adults. They affect 35% of 70-year-olds and a majority of people over age 85.

Movement and balance problems make it difficult for older adults to move around and complete the daily tasks necessary to live independently. However, the impact of limited mobility goes beyond these basics. It can also lead to falls, which could require hospitalization or even be fatal. In fact, 32,000 older adults die due to falls each year.

On the other hand, mobility devices can help older adults avoid falls, complete necessary daily tasks, and enjoy a higher level of independence. These mobility devices may range from walkers, canes, and rollators to wheelchairs, lifts, and ramps.

Let’s take a look at each device and how exactly they increase independence for older adults.


Walkers are mobility aids that can provide extra stability to individuals who have difficulty walking or standing on their own. These devices use a lightweight frame made of aluminum or other materials and have four legs with rubber tips or wheels at the bottom.

Walkers provide extra balance by providing a wide base of support. When a person uses a device, they can place their weight on the frame and use the four additional ground contact points for added stability.

Frames are adjustable to fit the exact height of the user, and there are hand grips for added comfort.

Some walkers also have additional features. For example, some products have wheels on the front legs that can swivel to help the user navigate around obstacles or turn corners more easily. Others have brakes to prevent a walker with wheels from rolling away from the user when they are on an incline.


Canes are an underrated mobility aid. These simple devices typically consist of a single shaft made of lightweight materials like aluminum or wood, with a handle on top for the user to hold. Most have a rubber tip on the bottom to avoid slipping.

Like walkers, canes provide an additional support base. The user can lead on the shaft while walking or standing. Some canes are adjustable in terms of height. They also have hand grips for added comfort and removable tip attachments that users can change depending on the conditions.

Some users rely on canes daily, while others may use them to provide an extra point of contact with the ground when they are outside of the home or engaged in an activity that requires a lot of movement.


Wheelchairs are mobility aids used by people who have difficulty walking or are unable to walk at all. There are several different types of wheelchairs available, each designed to meet different needs and preferences. All have at least four wheels and a seat for the user. Some are self-propelled, while others require the user or a helper to move the chair with their own power.

Here are four of the most common chair types.

  • Manual wheelchairs are the most common type of wheelchair and require physical effort to move. They are available in different sizes and designs, including lightweight models, which are ideal for travel, and heavier-duty options for daily use.
  • Power wheelchairs are motorized and require little or no physical effort to move. They are ideal for individuals who do not have the upper body strength to use a manual wheelchair but do not wish to rely on someone else to push them.
  • Standing wheelchairs enable the user to stand upright. They can help prevent muscle and bone deterioration and improve circulation.
  • Sports wheelchairs are designed for individuals who want to participate in recreational activities. They have added stability features and shock absorbers. These chairs are not necessarily only for competitive sports. They may work for older adults who want to spend time outdoors away from hard surfaces.

It is possible for some people to have more than one chair or to choose a chair that works in more than one environment.

Scooter and Wheelchair Lifts

Scooter and wheelchair lifts raise and transport mobility scooters, power wheelchairs, and manual wheelchairs on the back of vehicles. These lifts can make it easier and safer for individuals with mobility challenges to travel in their vehicles and pack away their mobility aids.

Usually, wheelchair lifts are powered by the vehicle's battery, though some models may have a separate battery pack. Most have a remote control or switch, and many have emergency manual operation modes.

These lifts are essential for anyone who plans to travel frequently in a vehicle. It is essential to choose a product that can safely accommodate your mobility device and provide access to your vehicle.


A rollator consists of a lightweight frame with four wheels, handlebars, a seat, and extras like a storage basket or platform. The wheels and handlebars allow the user to maneuver the rollator easily, and the seat and basket offer additional convenience and support.

Rollators can be particularly beneficial for individuals with balance or strength issues because they provide a stable base of support while walking. Unlike traditional walkers, which require lifting and advancing the device with each step, rollators allow the user to walk with less effort by rolling. This can help reduce the risk of falls, improve confidence, and increase overall mobility.

Stair Lifts

Stair lifts are motorized devices that help individuals move up and down stairs safely and independently. They consist of a chair or platform attached to a rail beside the staircase. Once the user sits on the chair or stands on the platform, the device moves them up or down the stairs powered by a motor.

Stair lifts can be particularly beneficial for individuals who live in multilevel homes and have difficulty climbing stairs due to mobility challenges. It can also limit the risk of falls due to balance and fatigue when climbing stairs.

Wheelchair Ramps

Wheelchair ramps are essential accessibility tools that can make it easier for individuals who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other mobility devices to navigate their environment.

They provide a safe, sturdy, and gradual incline that allows wheelchair users to move over steps, curbs, and thresholds that would otherwise be impossible to navigate.

Here are some of the most common varieties of wheelchair ramps.

  • Threshold ramps bridge small barriers, such as door thresholds and single steps. They are typically lightweight, portable, and easy to move from one location to another.
  • Portable ramps are designed to be moved from one location to another and can be easily set up and taken down. They are typically made of aluminum or other lightweight materials and can be used to bridge larger barriers such as curbs or small sets of stairs.
  • Modular ramps are permanent fixtures for accessing homes or public buildings. They may contain several pieces that you can connect to create a larger structure.

Although some may differentiate, most ramps typically have rails for additional support and safety.

How To Choose the Right Mobility Device

The right device or combination of devices can help older adults continue to live independently in their own homes and avoid the potentially dangerous issue of falls.

Physicians can help select the devices and assistance systems necessary to live independently with an assessment. In this assessment, healthcare providers evaluate balance and other issues and provide insights into the type of equipment necessary for safe and stable movements. From here, loved ones can also provide advice or help make a decision.

You can also assess your vehicle and home to decide on select devices that can help you with any barriers or limitations you experience in your current lifestyle.

More in Informational