How to Choose the Right Mobility Aids
When a Little Help Goes a Long Way
As my grandparents age, I notice that their walking has slowed; their knees are starting to go, they’re developing arthritis, and a task that a lot of people take for granted, walking, isn’t so easy for them anymore. Living in Michigan, the added danger of ice and snow during the winter has the rest of the family constantly worried about them falling and injuring themselves.
I also know younger people who need walking assistance because of other health problems such as MS (Multiple Sclerosis). For the people I know who need some help with mobility, devices such as canes and walkers help them preserve their independence and keep them from suffering debilitating falls. These mobility devices provide the individual peace of mind and freedom to get around more easily, without depending on others.
If you are at a point in your life and health where you need walking assistance, don’t wait! The threat of a fall for aging adults is very real - in fact, one in three adults over the age of 65 falls each year. According to the CDC, every 13 seconds, a senior is seen in the emergency room for injuries caused by a fall. Rather than become a statistic, stay ahead of the game - prevent falls before they happen. Follow these steps to help keep you safe and moving when choosing a mobility device.
1) Assess How Much Help You Need Walking
Before choosing a cane, walker, or even scooter, consider your day-to-day schedule and the amount of walking you do each day or each week. Do you need assistance walking because of chronic pain or knee/hip problems? If so, is it in one leg or both? How well can you keep your balance? Do you just need a crutch, or do you need more support? This handy guide from Health in Aging can help you determine if you need a cane, or if you need a walker. If you still aren't sure about your exact needs, contact your doctor or local occupational therapist to help you assess your current abilities.
2) Get measured for the right device
The Health in Aging guide above goes into detail about how your loved ones or your physician can help you select the right cane or walker for your height. Do NOT be lazy when it comes to picking your mobility device and just buy one off the rack at CVS! There are tons of options out there, so take the time you deserve to figure out which device is the best fit for you. While some are adjustable, make sure you are buying one that can support your weight and you can lean on height-wise, or it won’t help you balance or walk properly, and you could fall.
3) Make Other Necessary Adjustments for Your Home and Lifestyle
For instance, if you need a walker with wide dimensions, it will not fit on the stairs and will not help you balance as you are going up and down them! If you are out and about, you will need to take the elevator. If you live in a multi-storied home, you will need to consider adding fall-prevention hardware such as grab bars or stability poles, converting your stairs to ramps, or even moving to a one-story home to accommodate for your new mobility device. Again, an occupational therapist can help you asses which modifications or adjustments would be best for your home.
Remember, every person is unique, and at different stages of our lives we may need more help getting by than we used to, whether that’s walking, standing up, or making sure we don’t fall. It is never something to be ashamed of. Taking your safety seriously is showing self-love as well as love for your family who cares about your health and well being. If it's style that you're concerned with, luckily, nowadays there are tons of stylish and unique options out there in regards to mobility devices. Whether you are looking for a funky pattern on your cane, or prefer a more natural, wooden walking stick, I can guarantee you, you won't regret choosing to live a safer, easier, and more independent life!