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.
Is mobility a struggle?
As the Orange County experts in family caregiving, we understand. At Senior Life Management we have helped many older adults come to terms with the need for a walker. You don’t have to do this alone. Give us a call at 949-716-1266.
If your loved one is slated for joint surgery, don’t underestimate the impact. Expect that he or she will have reduced energy and greater needs.
Limited mobility will create surprising challenges. Things you take for granted will need extra care and attention for joint surgery.
Plus, the body simply needs time and energy to rebuild bone, muscle, and nerve connections after joint surgery.
There is much you can do ahead of time to help prepare a smooth path for recovery.
Support physical preparation for success
- Opt for an outpatient procedure if possible. It’s less invasive. Plus, recovery at home reduces the risk of complications.
- Consult a physical therapist. There may be exercises your loved one can do now to tone key muscles that will be needed after surgery.
- Support your relative in trimming excess weight and cutting down on alcohol and tobacco. All three impede healing.
Make practical arrangements
- Plan to provide daily help the first two weeks. The grogginess of pain meds and the difficulties of bathing, dressing, and walking make it unwise for your parent to go solo.
- No driving! A “chauffer” is needed for 3 to 6 weeks for errands and medical appointments.
- Stock up on easy-to-reheat meals. High-protein and high-fiber foods are wise—to promote healing and reduce any constipation from pain medicine.
- Plan to have a trusted friend or family member at the hospital, especially if there are mood or memory problems.
Rearrange the house
- Create a center of activities on the first floor. Ensure phone, remote, computer, books, meds, and water are all within easy reach.
- Devise a downstairs bed that is low (feet can touch the floor when sitting on it) and firm.
- Place a commode at bedside for the first week or so. Really. It makes life MUCH easier!
- Remove throw rugs—a serious trip hazard—and create wide thoroughfares. Your relative may be clumsy when using crutches or a walker.
Please Note: Senior Life Management does not specifically endorse the activities of these organizations, but offers their information as a sample of the kinds of materials and services that are available.