If you or someone you love has experiences difficulty with mobility or balance, it may be time to invest in a cane or a walker to prevent injury and to maintain independence. Many people are reluctant to purchase these items because of the social stigma attached to mobility aids. Fortunately, those who take the time to understand the full range of options will find stylish, practical, and affordable solutions.
Find the Right Fit
When you shop for a walker or cane, keep in mind that canes can support up to 25% of your body weight, while walkers can support up to 50%. It may seem obvious, but remember that walkers provide more reinforcement and are ideal for those suffering from moderate to severe balance issues rather than simply mild ones.
If you decide to get fitted for a cane, remember that one size does not fit all. The ideal length of your cane depends on the user’s height, so make sure Grandma doesn’t end up with a piece of equipment that was intended for a retired NBA player!
All canes used for walking and support should have a non-stick rubber tip at the bottom. Canes without this important safety feature are better suited for use in a Halloween costume or the school play; they may actually harm the user’s ability to walk and balance safely.
Four-point canes are usually made of metal and have a more “medical” appearance, but the additional “feet” on this type of cane provides greatly increased stability. If the affected individual isn’t yet ready for a walker but has trouble staying stable with a standard cane, this may be just the happy medium they need.
Walking the Walk
When it comes to walkers, you can opt for no wheels, two wheels (on the front) or four wheels. Walkers without wheels require the user to pick them up and set them down with each step forward. Just like canes, walkers need rubber tips on the feet (yes, tennis balls work in a pinch). Quality walkers also have rubber handles to avoid prevent and blisters in the palms and fingers.
Walker users may need additional assistance from family members or companions, as walkers are too big for safe use on stairs. Some walkers come equipped with seats to make it easy for users to rest during periods of fatigue.
It can be tough to come to grips with losses in mobility, but equipping oneself with the right cane or walker can make a significant difference in activity levels, confidence, and overall quality of life. There’s no reason not to demand the best when you’re purchasing such an important medical aid!