home-brd arrow-brd aging arrow-brd Helping your Senior Loved One Properly Use their Walker or Cane

Helping your Senior Loved One Properly Use their Walker or Cane

PMC  August 13, 2019    pmc  Jeff Conner

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Help your senior loved one properly use their mobility walker or cane to reduce the risk of fall and increase autonomy. Often times, issues using these aids is related to gait problems or user error. Talk to a qualified mobility aid retailer to learn more today.

If you- or someone you love- has been advised to use a mobility aid, such as a walker or cane, it can be tricky to become adept at using it. Typically, providers order using a cane or walker to keep weight off an injured limb, to aid with balance, or to ensure safety during ADLs (Activities of Daily Living). Be wary and enlist support when first using your mobility cane or walker to keep reduce the risk of a nasty fall, or ask a reputable mobility aids retailer to demonstrate such equipment before buying.

A cane or a walker? Which one is right for you?

Your doctor or provider will recommend the best mobility solution for you, but typically canes are for injuries to one side or extremity whereas a walker can help with overall balance and gait. Know that in addition to several styles of canes, there are three distinct types of walkers: two, three, and four-wheel varieties.

  • The best style of walker or cane for you depends on a number of factors; talk to your doctor to learn more.
  • Practice is key in comfort level using your new mobility aid.
  • Don’t think of your cane or walker as a burden; consider it your path to stability, security, freedom, and independence!
  • Your walker and cane will be much easier to use when fitted and adjusted to the correct height.
  • Always ask for a demonstration of proper use from your doctor as well as your mobility aids vendor.

geriatric provider in Florida reports that these tips can help you adapt and transition to the safe use of a cane or walker- whether for short term rehabilitation or long term usage.

Do you have gait issues?

Could you have gait issues that are contributing to an increased fall risk? Gait problems don’t typically occur overnight and are often related to issues with your body’s core. This results in a stiff, short gait that can cause you problems with your balance. One way to prevent gait issues is to work on flexibility through beginning yoga or other low-impact activities.

Does it fit?

The fit and height of your walker has everything to do with using it safely.

Make sure that when you are being fitted for the correct height of your new cane or walker, wear the shoes that you will wear every day and stand as tall as you can.

Try standing with your feet together inside the framework of your walker and let your arms dangle to see where the handgrips for the walker are; the walker is the correct height when the handgrips hit you at your wrists.

As for the cane, have it adjusted so that the handle hits you around the wrist, also. Always opt for adjustable canes to ensure they are as comfortable as possible.

Don’t slip and slide

Sometimes, canes or two-wheeled walkers can slip and slide on slick or slippery surfaces. Reduce slipping and sliding and implement non-skid rubber tips on the back two non-wheels or the tip of your cane. Some individuals use tennis balls that have been split open as buffers on the back two wheels of their walker.

Use your walker the right way

Always ask for a demo of proper use from your mobility retailer, provider, or doctor. Usually, proper use of a walker involves rolling the walker ahead of you and staying close to it as you move. Remember to lean forward slightly and keep the arms of the walker under control; try not to look down at your feet but rather straight ahead.

Carry and use your cane correctly

Physical therapists suggest that to use a cane correctly, adjust it to the right height first. Next, use in the opposite hand of your bum knee or hip as this provides the best weight distribution for the counter support of a cane. Walk naturally and move the cane with the same steps and rhythm of your ‘good leg’ – when you step forward with the good leg, move the cane forward at the same time. Too much reliance on a cane could indicate the need for a walker, so let your provider know if you are struggling.

Sit down

Don’t’ use your cane or walker for support when rising or lowering to a chair or seated position; this can cause a fall. Instead, use the arm of the sofa or chair if you need more support.

Ready for a cane or walker? Learn more and talk to the industry professionals at Pacific Mobility; they provide demonstration and support for all of the mobility aids and devices that they sell.