Has your elderly loved one ever been shown how to use a cane properly by a doctor or physical therapist? If not, they could be using it wrong and causing some problems for themselves and their elderly care plan.
Many people mistakenly think that it’s fine just to grab a cane and go, but there are some guidelines to follow. Using a cane properly reduces the risk of falling and minimizes strain on the body. It can even help the elderly person avoid a slip and fall accident.
Here are 5 tips on using a cane properly:
1. Make sure it is the correct height for the elderly user.
Canes height must be measured so that it is not too tall or to short for the elderly person. Ask your loved one to stand up straight in walking shoes with their arms hanging loosely at their side. Then, you can measure from the bend in their wrist to the floor. This is the proper height the cane should be. Many metal canes are adjustable in height, so you can make changes if they have been using the wrong height.
2. Hold the cane in the dominant hand.
Many people mistakenly hold the cane on the weak side of their body or the less dominant side. The cane should go on the most dominant side. Because so much of the body weight goes onto the cane, seniors should have their strongest side supporting the body.
3. Move the cane when the weak side moves.
Although the cane is held in the dominant hand, it should move with the weaker side. So, the elderly person should step forward with their dominant leg, then move the cane and the weaker leg forward together. This way, the weaker side has the support of the cane always.
4. Don’t put the cane too far from the body.
When elderly people walk with a cane, they are often tempted to put the tip out quite far from their bodies. This can lead to a slip and fall accident because they lose their balance. Instead, they should place the tip of the cane just a few inches from the side of the body.
5. Practice with a cane going up and down stairs.
Manipulating the stairs can be tricky with a cane, so seniors should practice enough so that it becomes second nature. When ascending the stairs, they should use their dominant leg first, then move the weaker leg and the cane together. When descending the stairs, the opposite action should happen. They should start with the weaker leg and the cane, then follow with the stronger leg.
Any one of these problems when walking with a cane can lead to the elderly adult losing their balance and falling. As part of your elderly care duties, take some time to observe your aging relative as they use their cane. If you spot any errors, you can correct them or have them ask the doctor or physical therapist for an opinion on adjusting their bad walking habits.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in Shepherd, MT, please contact the caring staff at SYNERGY HomeCare today at 406-839-2390.