We’ve said it before and I’m sure we’ll say it again: getting older is not for sissies. One of the many things that can frustrate seniors is not being able to easily do things that were a breeze when they were younger. While it’s not a problem to give up some things — like sitting Indian-style on the floor, for instance — no one wants to have their mobility affected by nothing more than the passage of time.
Even minus medical issues like arthritis, many seniors may find themselves struggling to maintain their balance while walking, but most will stubbornly refuse to use a cane, which they see as an old person’s tool. Failing to use a walking aid due to stubbornness can be a recipe for disaster, because falls taken by older people can result in serious medical problems.
At S.A.F.E., we started thinking about alternatives to using a cane and stumbled on something we find rather brilliant. What about using a walking stick instead?
Walking sticks come in many styles, and because they look a lot less clinical than canes, seniors may consider them to be more of a fashion statement or embellishment than a medical device. As long as they sport a plastic tip — an important stabilizing element — a walking stick may be the perfect solution for a cane-phobic senior.
There may even be some medical benefits to using a walking stick, as noted by Linda Joy Mendelsohn, M.D., a doctor in Cochecton, NY. She wrote the following in Am Fam Physician: “For several reasons, I wholeheartedly agree that a walking stick is better than a cane. I see many people who have shoulder problems from leaning on a cane. A walking stick does not put pressure on the shoulder, but rather enables the biceps muscle to hold the body up. In addition, many people using a cane bend forward and take very short steps. The walking stick encourages the patient to stand straighter, have better posture, and walk with a more natural stride (within the limits of the condition requiring the assistive device). I have prescribed walking sticks to several patients who have found them to be more helpful than a cane.”
If your parents need a little help getting around, suggest shopping for a walking stick that fits their personality. You may be surprised at all the options that are out there. And, when you know the walking stick is being used, you’ll gain peace of mind from knowing there is less of a chance that they’ll slip and fall when they’re out and about.
Need some walking stick sources? Contact us and we’ll be glad to do some research for you.