Did you know that there is a right way and a wrong way to use a cane? Far too many elderly adults are using their cane wrong. Improper use can result in strained hands and wrists, unsteady walking and even a slip and fall. As part of your senior care duties, take a minute to observe your elderly relative walk with a cane. If you spot any difficulties, consider that they may need to adjust what they are doing to remain healthy and stable on their feet.
Here are 5 things for elderly adults to avoid when using a cane:
1. Don’t use a cane that is too short or too tall.
Seniors that use a cane that is the wrong size can suffer from imbalance and aching muscles. Plus, if the cane is the wrong size it can remove any of the stability that the elderly adult needs to walkaround. This could lead to a slip and fall accident quite easily. The top of a properly sized cane should reach from the floor to the elderly person’s wrist joint. Make sure they are wearing walking shoes when measuring.
2. Don’t hold the cane in the wrong hand.
Unless a physical therapist says otherwise, the proper way to hold a cane is on the person’s dominant side. Too many people use the cane on the weaker side, but that is not correct. The idea is that the cane supports the body on one side and that should be the person’s stronger side to help hold them up.
3. Don’t move the cane with the strong side of the body.
Even though the cane is held in the dominant hand, it should move with the weaker side of the body. In other words, when an elderly person walks, they should stride out with the stronger leg first, then move the cane and the weaker leg forward together. This way, the weak side has the support of the cane when it is walking.
4. Don’t put the point of the cane out too far.
There’s no reason to extend the cane out more than a few inches from the body. Reaching too far in front or to the side can lead to imbalance and falls. A cane should only extend out as far as the opposite foot.
5. Don’t drag the cane when walking with it.
Too many seniors end up dragging the tip of the cane behind them as they walk. The cane needs to stay close to the side of the body through the entire walking motion, acting almost like a third leg. Dragging the end of the cane and pulling it to catch up to the next step means that their gait is off and the elderly person will quickly get off-balance.
If you’ve noticed any problems with how your elderly relative uses their cane, it may be time to contact the doctor or the physical therapist. The physical therapist can teach them how to properly walk with a cane so they can stay safe and healthy. Part of seniorcare is to ensure that seniors have all the tools and devices they need for a good quality of life. Even though a cane is a simple walking aid, it can complicate life if not used correctly.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Senior Care Services in Chester PA, please contact the caring staff at True Direct Home Health Care today.
Doc, as he is called by everyone - staff, patients and clients - first experienced home health care and hospice care while as a colleg student at King's College as he cared for his mother every day while she first battled COPD and then lung cancer. It was during this time that he came to understand that caring for a patient was more than just clinical expertise.
"Admittedly, my strongest attribute is my communication skills and the simple fact that I love to help people. Even the smallest thing you can do for someone really can mean so much to them long term. In fact, it could change them forever. That's what providing quality personal home health care should be all about."
In his spare time, he cooks for homeless shelters and children's music and arts events. He also is highly involved in his local youth sports soccer academy as a coach and Board member.
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