You go when and where you want, see everything you would like and stay as long as you desire. There’s nothing holding you back. We still cherish the independence coming with mobility but as we age mobility sometimes becomes a challenge. The thought of having to use a cane or a walker chips away at our perception of independence. Depending on more than our own legs seems to serve as an indicator of diminishing independence.
A transition to either a walker or cane should not be difficult and is certainly not a loss of independence. Canes and walkers may be awkward at first but using them ensures safety. Not using a cane and walker when needed may lead to a fall and the results of a fall have a larger effect on independence.
Why People Fall
There are a variety of reasons why elderly are prone to falling: environment, health conditions; reactions to medications and simply poor balance. Prescriptions lowering blood pressure,. diuretics and drugs used to treat depression and anxiety affect balance. Sedatives, sleeping pills and tranquilizers also increase the risk of falls. Diagnoses such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, arthritis and variable blood disorders could affect balance. People having neuropathy in their feet often need a cane or walker to remain steady. Even lifting feet to clear objects becomes a challenge.
Elders often become physically frail and less steady regardless of medications. First address the cause and then decide whether a cane or walker is best.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older Americans. Imagine an older adult falling every second of the day. The CDC published a report citing the grim figure of 29 million falls in 2014. People suffered broken hips, concussions, broken bones and 27,000 deaths resulting from the fall or injuries sustained.
The American Geriatrics Society states nearly 33 % of those ages 65 and over have complications with balance or walking. As people reach the age of 75 these problems increase. The severity of each fall increases with the number of falls. An older person faces loss of independence if not using an assistive device such as a walker or cane when needed.
Encouraging a Wise Decision
Statistics alone do not always persuade a person to change their mind about using a cane or walker. Unfortunately, sometimes a fall or near fall occurs before the choice is made. Often a health care provider or physical therapist makes the decision as to if a cane or walker is necessary. If your loved one needs to make the transition talk to them about the consequences of not using a cane or walker.
A fall may lead to a permanent disability. Using a cane or walker prevents a crisis. Balance is improved when using these devices and ambulating becomes much safer.
You are vital to your loved one in providing the moral support needed in these situations. Reframe the circumstances to avoid a negative reaction. Canes and walkers do not mean the end of independence. In many ways they are the key to continued independence.
When your loved one is needing to use a cane or walker encourage them to embrace the change as a way of increasing safety You want your loved one to be healthy and safe in order to enjoy quality of life for as long as possible.
Bridge to Better Living® knows the importance of safety when choosing a Senior Living Option. Contact them today to learn more about the Retirement Communities in your area.