It may have been a fall. Possibly a newly diagnosed illness or a hospitalization. Often, it’s a chronic disease finally taking a toll. The reasons vary, but nearly 30% of older adults nevertheless need to rely on some type of mobility device, such as a walker, cane or wheelchair.
Yet, needing one doesn’t always translate to using one.
“Too many of the available products look so clinical—basically hospital furniture that makes them look like a diagnosis. Many people do not want to present themselves like that to the world, which then creates an adherence issue.”
Scott Bernstein faced this dilemma with his own father, who’s living with Parkinson’s, yet needed a walker to maintain his independence.
“Shopping for one was such an emotional transaction,” he said. “I wanted something he wouldn’t be embarrassed to use, something that allows him to be confident in his own skin. But I also needed him to actually use it. Too many of the options available treat older adults like patients, not people.”
Too many of the options available treat older adults like patients, not people.
The experience was a wake-up call—one that led him to gather a team of industrial designers and engineers (with career experience at brands like Nike, Timex, Whirlpool and more) to rethink the humble walker.
The disrupting result: Peppermint, a “walker you actually want to use” that encourages users of mobility equipment to “leave the tennis balls at home.”
Modular design tailored to each person
The average walker is certainly functional, serving as a practical mobility aid for older adults. But that bar is set too low, Bernstein said, and the mobility-impaired community deserves better.
“What’s taken place in the past doesn’t have to reflect what it looks like in the future,” he said. “It’s all about how someone feels when they use these products.”
As a result, every aspect of the forthcoming Peppermint rollator walker – expected in summer 2023 – is about allowing older adults and the mobility-impaired to present themselves to the world with self-confidence. And the industry makeover Peppermint is leading, Bernstein said, is well overdue.
“There are endless choices in more traditional consumer categories such as eyeglasses, strollers, mattresses and footwear, and when our mobility needs evolve, we should have choices there, too.”
In addition to a vastly improved attractive design and modern look, the Peppermint team also rethought each component of a walker, looking for ways to improve and “future-proof” them for a better experience.
The cork composite grips and forged aluminum brakes create a satisfying ergonomic experience with a refined feel and finish. And the compression-molded performance fabrics and cushions are both removable and washable—and also feature a storage pouch for essential items, such as keys, phone and wallet.
One of the biggest features of the Peppermint walker is its adaptability to the user: The cork grips are removable and can be swapped out for other styles, the front wheels are removable to allow for different terrains, and the whole unit can be accessorized with storage options and even resistance bands. In fact, various attachment points enable the user to connect a special “health kit” to perform essential upper- and lower-body strength-training exercises.
“I view this walker not as medical equipment but as exercise equipment,” Bernstein said, who worked on the design with a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics. “As we age, we all need to exercise, including cardio and strength training. And all of us, regardless of ability, need to get up off our couches as much as possible.”
A walker made for living
While the Peppermint walker has a leg up on the other available options in the market, Bernstein said the main goal is to simply encourage more regular use—to allow older adults to “get out there and continue living” while feeling confident and staying safe.
After all, what passed for previous generations, he said, is no longer acceptable.
“Society can’t ignore older adults,” he said. “Maybe that was OK for the past generation, but for the Baby Boomers, that’s not gonna fly.”
While the Peppermint will not be available until summer 2023, caregivers and older adults are invited to learn more and join an exclusive group who can provide input on accessories and product features you’d like to see—and to gain early access to purchase a Peppermint walker of your own!