Elderly care means looking out for an aging relative in every aspect of their lives. When an elderly loved one experiences problems with their balance, it can lead to some serious problems with walking. Other factors can contribute to an aging adult that isn’t very steady on their feet. Examples include a stroke, arthritis, surgery on a knee or foot, and weakening muscle mass.
If their doctor or physical therapist has recommended a cane, an elderly person may not realize that there are some right and wrong ways to use one. In fact, improper use of a cane can lead to physical problems and increase the risk of a slip and fall accident. That’s why it’s important for everyone involved in a person’s elderly care to ensure they have been taught how to use their cane the right way.
Here are some frequently asked questions about canes:
Q: What kind of canes are there?
A: Canes come in a few different styles and each one is designed to provide varying levels of support. The classic cane has a curved handle and single point that touches the floor. There are also canes with vertical handles and tri- or quad-points for more stability. The physical therapist can guide the elderly person in choosing the best cane.
Q: How do you figure out the right size of a cane?
A: Getting the right size of a cane is critical because if one is too short it can cause back and shoulder problems. If the cane is too tall, it won’t properly support the aging adult. When the seniors stand straight in their walking shoes, the curve of the cane should reach the bend in the wrist. Many aluminum canes can adjust their height for a perfect fit.
Q: Which side should the cane be held?
A: Contrary to popular belief, the cane should be held on the dominant or strongest side. That’s because a person’s body weight leans onto the cane and it is given about 25 percent support. Medical professionals say that using the stronger side on a cane will cause less fatigue and give the person more control.
Q: How should a senior walk with a cane?
A: Just as the cane should be held on the dominant side, it should also move with the weaker side. When walking, the elderly person should step out with their dominant foot, then move the weaker foot and the cane forward together. This way, the weaker side has the support of the cane as intended.
Q: How should seniors with canes use the stairs?
A: When taking the stairs, seniors need to use the cane very carefully. When ascending, they should use their dominant leg first, then bring up the cane and the weaker leg. When descending, they should use their weaker leg and the cane first, then follow with the dominant leg. It takes practice to get it right, and seniors should be encouraged to use the proper technique on the stairs to avoid a slip and fall accident.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Elder Care in Plainview, NY, please contact the caring staff at Family First Home Companions. Serving all of Long Island. Call today: (631) 319-3961
Jennifer has specialized training in Alzheimer’s disease through the Long Island Alzheimer’s Association and the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation.She also volunteered her time with the Alzheimer's Disease Assistance Center of Long Island for 3 years by providing cognitive stimulation to an Alzheimer’s patient group.
Jennifer educates the community about elder care and speaks to caregiver support groups, senior centers, and at professional organizations.Topics include home safety, effective strategies for family caregiving, elder care planning, and awareness about elder abuse.
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