Do you need a prescription for a walker?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Do you need a prescription for a walker?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

No, you don't need a prescription for a walker, but I wouldn't recommend buying a walker on your own. An inappropriate or improperly used walker can actually contribute to a fall. It's also important to remember that some people should only use a walker with supervision. Also, people with dementia may always need reminding to use their walker.

However, if a walker is prescribed, your parent may be eligible for reimbursement by Medicare. If you feel your parent might need a walker, start by getting advice from a medical professional -- your parent's doctor or nurse. If the medical professional is in agreement, ask for a referral to a physical therapist for a walker evaluation. A physical therapist can assess whether a walker will help your parent, and if so, what type. This is an important step, since some people have medical issues that make walkers risky. Physical therapists are trained to fit and accommodate walkers for individual body sizes and needs. They can also adapt a walker for special needs, such as arm weakness or a bad back.