When used properly, walking sticks and safety devices like medical alert systems can help keep seniors safe. For those with painful joints, an injury, or poor balance, a cane can help relieve some of the pressure and prevent falls from occurring.
Aside from learning the basics of cane use, it’s also important to choose a stick that is fitted to your height since using a too short or too tall cane can negatively affect your gait and balance. Here’s how to use walking sticks properly:
Often, seniors attempt to use their sticks on the wrong side. However, it should be positioned on the stronger side to avoid any pressure on the weak side. You will need to shift more of your weight to the injury-free area while moving the stick with your weaker side.
For maximum efficiency and mobility, seniors should do their best to practice moving their weak side at the same time as the cane. During each step, the stick and the weaker leg should hit the floor at the same time. Then the stronger leg should be moved through to the middle for better stability. It may feel odd at first, but it can help reduce stress on joints.
To stay balanced, it is important to have good posture and keep your back straight. Avoid leaning too far on either side and keep your center of balance as close as possible to your body. Seniors should also be mindful of overextending the cane out in front of them to avoid taking large steps.
Irene Lefever is a senior advisor whose role is to make sure that senior citizens’ physical, mental, psychological, and emotional needs are catered to. Lefever got her degree in Multimedia Arts at the University of California, Riverside.