Is A Cane Or A Walker A Better Choice For Your Loved One?

Aging can be difficult for your loved one, especially if they have to become dependent upon mobility aids to get around. Bad joints, hip or knee surgery, or balance issues usually come with strict doctor's orders to use a cane or a walker to get around. Helping your loved one choose the right one depends on several factors.

Why Do They Need Help?

Canes are generally used for those that only need a bit of help. They are best for minor injuries or slight balance issues, not for both. If your loved one has a trick knee or trouble navigating curbs and steps, a cane is usually all they need.

For those with more major injuries, such as two knees that sometimes give out, recent hip surgery, or severe arthritis, the better support and balance provided by a walker is the better choice.

Are There Maneuverability Issues?

Sometimes, a combination of both a walker and a cane is the best option. For example, if the room arrangement, hall widths, and interior door placements make indoor walker use at home difficult, your loved one can use a cane for some added support and balance at home, and then take a folding walker with them when they are out and about.

How Far Do They Usually Travel?

If your loved one enjoys long walks or uses public transportation to get around, you may want to consider getting them a walker for these longer trips. Many walker designs come with built in seats, which ensures they always have a place to rest when necessary. Walkers can also double as shopping trolleys, so they won't stress themselves more by carrying heavy bags.

Do Any Restrictions Exist?

This is where talking with their doctor is most important. The following health restrictions may help determine which tool is better to use.

  • Lifting restrictions. If your loved one has lifting restrictions in place, a cane may be out of the question since they must support their body weight awkwardly on one side. In this case, use a rolling walker so they won't have to lift anything.

  • Poor upper body strength. If balance is good, a cane is a possibility. Otherwise, a rolling walker is a better idea. Do not use a non-rolling walker because it may be too heavy to lift.

  • Extreme balance issues or vertigo. Skip the cane and go with a lift or rolling walker for better support.

A balance test may also be used to determine which is better. For example, if your loved one can travel reasonably well over an uneven surface with only minimal assistance, and they can take steps forward, backward, and sideways without help, they can usually get away with only a cane.

Remember, using a mobility aid can hurt the pride of some people. Be kind and understanding about their reservations, but insistent that they use the help they need to move around safely. To find out more about mobility aids, visit a website like