Many older adults (65 years old and over) remain in their home for longer periods and avoid institutionalization.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey showed that 23% of the older population in the U.S. in 2013 has ambulatory disability. Ambulation refers to the ability to move from one place to another.
Despite the fact that many of these older adults have some ambulation disability, many remain at home. A report from the Administration on Aging (AoA), Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that about 12.5 million or 28% of non-institutionalized older Americans in 2013 live alone (8.8 million women and 3.8 million men).
Growing Old At Home With The Help Of A Cane
Many older adults remain in their home for longer periods and avoid institutionalization because of assistive devices like canes.
A study by Russell et al. found that more than 75% of elderly with disabilities use some type of assistive device.
Another study by Helen Marie Hoenig found that about one in four older adults use an assistive device; while one-third uses more than one device.
A cane is a simple walking stick with a handle, shaft and rubber tip or tips. Some canes only have one tip; others have four tips (quad type).
Health care professionals in the field of geriatrics like the American Geriatrics Society advise users to use this assistive device properly for safe use. Here are some of their safety recommendations:
1. Hand use
The cane should be held on the opposite side of the weak leg.
2. Weight bearing
Only up to 25% of the user’s body can be supported by this mobility aid.
3. Rubber Tips
The tip or tips of this walking aid must be equipped with rubber. This rubber must also be replaced when damaged.
4. Health conditions
In the paper entitled “Assistive Technologies in the Home” published in Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, authors K. Brummel-Smith and Mariana Dangiolo recommend that this walking device is best for people with problems from neuropathy (dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves). People who need to lessen pain in an arthritic knee or hip will also benefit from this device, Brummel-Smith and Dangiolo wrote.
5. Ground contact
When the quad cane is used, all four tips must be in solid contact with the ground to support the user’s body weight.
A cane that is too short or too long can cause wrist, hand, back and shoulder pain. If you notice a 20 to 30-degree bend on your arms once you hold the handle, that is the correct height. You can achieve this correct bend angle if:
You wear your normal shoes.
Allow your arms to hang loosely on your sides.
Ask someone to measure the height from your wrist to the floor.
Adjust the height based on this measurement.