When it comes to older adults in America, every year one in four of them will take a fall. These falls result in two million visits to the emergency room by senior citizens every year. In fact, every 11 seconds someone in that age group gets treated for a fall by emergency services. A lot of falls happen due to unsteadiness or dizziness when walking or even standing up, and many falls can be prevented with the right cane.
If there is a beloved senior in your life, you certainly want them protected from the potentially serious effects of a major fall. Sometimes, however, it can be hard to convince someone that they should be using folding canes, walking sticks, or some other mobility device. Whether you’re dealing with a parent, a spouse, a sibling, or even just a friend, there is a right and a wrong way to recommend to them that they use a cane. If you’re dreading this conversation, here are some tips to help make it easier:
Emphasize Improved Independence
This doesn’t mean that you threaten them with a move to a nursing home! It just means that you carefully and kindly remind them that if they have their own folding canes or even fancy walking canes, they don’t have to find an arm to lean on every time they want to get up or move to another room. They can get balance and support for themselves and stay more independent.
Get a Professional Opinion
Many times people are not really willing to listen to a lay person’s advice, even if that person is a loved one. They may dismiss it as a “nervous Nellie” bit of worrying. In fact, you may even be worrying needlessly, so it can be smart to have a doctor or occupational therapist of some sort give some sound personal advice on whether a mobility aid of some sort is wise in your loved one’s specific situation. Many doctors and therapists have a lot of experience helping people to accept the difficult news, and it can be easier to hear that you need to use a walking stick from a neutral third party than from your relative.
Show Them All The Options
Today there are many options in canes for stability. There are carbon fiber folding canes for convenience, designer walking canes for the young at heart, elegant walking canes with brass cane handles for the classy, and entirely functional canes for people who don’t like any frills. Help your loved one see what’s available and how it could fit into their lifestyle.
Let Them Choose
Buying a cool cane and bringing it home as a gift may not be the right move. Let your loved one feel empowered by allowing them to make this choice on their own. Not only will it help emotionally, but you also need a cane that fits their height, weight, and preferences for the handle. They should make that choice directly.
Emphasis The Trial Run
One way to ease a beloved senior citizen into the idea of using folding canes or other mobility aids is to emphasize that they are free to try something out and give it up if it isn’t working. Sometimes it’s possible to rent canes or test them for a few days before buying. This allows your loved one to see what makes them most comfortable. Hopefully, they’ll also notice how the cane helps them be more independent and mobile.
It’s never easy to help someone deal with the reality of aging. All of us will face the eventual loss of some of our mobility, agility, and independence. Just make sure you’re doing all you can to make this change as easy for your loved ones as it can possibly be.