For many older adults, use of a walker carries great stigma. It’s a symbol of disability and often of isolation. In actual fact, a walker can be the key to staying actively engaged with favorite activities.
The benefits of a walker
- It can bear up to 50% of a person’s weight. (A cane holds only 25%.)
- It supports good posture. A walker keeps a person upright by reinforcing both sides of the body. (A cane steadies only one side.)
- It is designed for people with moderate to severe balance problems or those with generalized weakness and arthritis. (A cane is best for only minor balance problems or injuries.)
- It may act as a chair when needed. Many walkers with wheels have a bench. Great for “standing” in line or when your loved one is suddenly tired or dizzy.
- It can be rather stylish, with modern accessories, such as a smartphone clamp, a coffee cup holder and a basket for carrying things.
- It stays where you put it! Canes seem to have a mind of their own, scooting out of reach when you least expect it.
If you have had the “walker talk” with no success, make an appointment with the doctor and directly ask, “What’s your experience with patients who fall? How careful should we be?”
Also get the doctor’s input about the type of walker that is best for your loved one. Perhaps he or she will do a mobility assessment. Or make a referral to a physical or occupational therapist to create a plan for safe walking.
Empathize with Dad’s frustration that his body has given out on him in this way. Remind him that with a walker, he can still get around on his own to do what he pleases. It’s often the most effective choice for maintaining independence.