Nearly 7 million Americans need an assistive device to improve mobility, such as a walking cane. There are many different types of canes, from plain durable canes to horse head canes, to quad canes. The correct one to choose differs from person to person based on their mobility issues, their lifestyle, and their personal style and comfort. Here are a few tips to choose the right one for you or someone you know.
While Needing a Cane Is a Medical Issue, Choosing One Is a Personal One.
Of adults 65 years and older, just over 10% use a cane. That number jumps to just under 40% for adults over the age of 85 using a mobility device of some type. Buying a cane is an uncomfortable purchase for some people, because it is a very visible sign that they need assistance. That is the wrong way to view it. A mobility device is meant to help a person retain their independence and their ability to move around as they please. Buying a cane is a responsible thing to do, and should be viewed as such.
Are All Canes of Equal Functionality?
Canes come in different levels of assistance. A walking stick, for example, is meant to assist someone when on a walking trail. It does not, and is not designed to, provide support in terms of holding up under body weight. It is more of a balancing tool. The same goes for a snazzy horse head cane. It looks stylish, and does provide more support than a walking stick. However it still does not provide enough stability under actual body weight.
A cane that can support a measure of body weight is a quad cane. A quad cane has four short legs at the base of the cane that are tipped in rubber. This cane also features an offset handle for comfort. A quad cane can provide the most support of any cane, by holding up to 20% of the user’s body weight. Any more than that amount requires the support of a walker, not a cane.
Canes Assist With Mobility, But Really They Can Provide Safety.
A cane can help someone with mobility issues move around more comfortably. But it is not just getting from place to place confidently that is helpful. The real purpose is to help prevent falls. In fact, nearly one in every four adults falls each year. In the case of older adults, it has been found that 50% of slips or falls occur at home. Many of these falls are serious, as about 2 million elderly adults need to head into the emergency room annually for care. Most falls occur when someone is moving from sitting to standing up, and they lose their balance.
Choosing a Good Cane That Makes You Feel Good.
A cane is pointless if it goes unused. This is why is it essential for people to choose a cane that feels right for them, whether it’s a horse head cane or a carbon fiber cane. What matters is that it will provide the correct amount of support, and that it fits properly. An improperly fitting cane can cause misalignment throughout the body. There will be a lack of support from the cane, as the body is leaning to one side to compensate.
A good simple rule for finding the right cane height is to measure from the ground up to the break of the wrist. The palm of the user’s hand should rest comfortably on the hand rest with the elbow at about a 30 degree flexion. The cane should be used on the side opposite of the weakest side.
It doesn’t matter what the cane looks like, whether it is completely utilitarian or an elegant horse head cane. What matters is that the owner feels comfortable using the cane. Of course, the cane must also fit correctly, and provide the proper support. After all, using an assistive device is nothing to be embarrassed about. People of all ages find that they need a little assistance when moving around. Choosing a good cane then is a sign of taking responsibility for one’s self.