Choosing the Right Mobility Device (part 1)

By Sandy Daughen

View all articles by this author

Mobility devices are one way that seniors can keep themselves safe and active.  Using the appropriate mobility device can allow one to continue to be mobile, both in the home and in the community, safely complete the activities they need to do, and maintain their leisure and fitness.  Mobility devices commonly used include canes, walkers, manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs and power scooters.  For each device, there are several varieties from which to choose. 


This will be the first in a series of articles about selecting and purchasing the mobility device.  Knowing what you want will help you gain a greater sense of control when shopping around for the right mobility device.

There are four general steps involved in determining what type of mobility device you might require. 

  1. Define what you need the mobility device to do for you:
  • What is it that you want to do that is necessary or important to you?
  • Do you need to use the device indoors or out doors? On the stairs?
  • What surfaces do you need to use the device on- rough terrain, carpeting, slippery, surfaces?
  • Does the device need to be used all the time, or just occasionally?
  • What are the transportation issues?  Does the device need to be folded in a trunk?  Does it need to meet Handi-Dart or BC Transit specification?
  • Is storage an issue?
2. Define your goals:

  • How do you want your solutions to work?
  • What activities do you want the mobility device to help you with?  What activities might be hindered by the device?

3. Review your options and solutions:

  • What types of devices are out there?
  • Do I need a device, or do I need to look at changing my routine or way of performing this task?
  • What are the benefits of using the mobility device?
  • What are the drawbacks?

4. Select the right solution:

  • Test out and make decisions among possible alternatives.
  • Does it solve your problem and fulfill your needs?
  • Is it well-designed and easy to use?
  • Do you like it?
  • Can you manage the cleaning, maintenance and repairs yourself, or do you have someone who can assist you?
  • Do you need to be trained in its use?

Once you have answered these questions, this will give you the basic information needed to help you choose the most appropriate mobility device.


If you are having trouble answering these kinds of questions, it may be appropriate to seek the assistance of your doctor, a family member, or occupational or physio therapist. 

 Sandy Daughen is a registered Occupational Therapist.

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