And How to Find the Right Cane

Although some seniors must begin using a cane for support after knee or hip surgery, others experience a more gradual loss of mobility. Here are several signs that indicate a cane may be a timely decision, and tips for choosing one that fits your needs.

Signs Your Senior Might Need a Cane

There are stages in life when we all need support. Young children need a helping hand when learning to walk and ride a bike. Pregnant women may appreciate a firm grip on an elbow or arm for additional balance. Sometimes aging can include a loss of mobility, and a walking cane can be a useful tool for helping seniors remain active.

If your elderly patient or parent mentions the following, or you notice these behaviors, it's time to discuss investing in a cane.

  • More frequent stumbles or loss of balance could indicate declining mobility. A physician can rule out an inner ear infection or other medical causes. If there are no underlying medical issues, a cane may help stabilize coordination.
  • An uneven gait or limp can indicate muscle imbalance. If your senior begins favoring one foot over another, the 'good' foot may become stressed, while the less used foot continues to weaken. A walking cane will alleviate pressure and help regain balance.
  • Reliance on furniture or walls for support to move suggests your patient needs a cane, especially when walking outdoors where supports aren't available.

Before shopping for a cane, check with your patient's physician to confirm this type of mobility aid is an appropriate solution.

What to Look for When Purchasing a Cane

  1. Cane Height. A cane is most effective when it fits the patient. If it's too short, your senior will experience strain from poor posture. If the height is too tall, the cane won't provide adequate support.

    To find the correct size, ask your senior to:

    • stand tall with arms resting comfortably to his or her side
    • wear normal walking shoes

    Measure from the ground up to the crease of your patient's wrist, rounding up to the nearest half-inch.

  2. Cane Grip. Now explore the most comfortable cane grip. Styles include ergonomic for those with arthritis, offset with soft rubber for comfort, or palm or orthopedic for easy gripping. Let your senior try a few styles to find one that feels right. 
  3. Cane Type.  Finally, choose a cane type that meets your patient's needs. The most popular cane type for seniors with mobility loss from arthritis has a single point. For patients with neurological issues or more severe balance impairment, a three-point or four-point cane may be a better choice because they can support more weight.  

Your senior should align the cane with the healthier side of his or her body, extending the device when the weaker side moves forward. The additional support will place less pressure on the more muscular leg and stabilize the weaker leg or foot.

Talk with the Kerr Medical Team about Mobility Tools

When you're shopping for mobility aids, including canes, contact Kerr Medical. We'll answer your questions and help you find the right solution for your senior.

Reference sources: