Caregiver Advice – Walking Aids Safety posted on: 07-07-2009

Recently, the Center For Disease Control (CDC) released a study estimating that forty seven thousand elderly Americans are injured each year due to falls attributed to the use of mobility aids such as canes and walkers. With these shocking figures in mind we have given you some of our caregiver advice to help avoid these situations.

Falls involving walkers accounted for 87% of the falls while 13% of the falls were attributed to the use of canes. These falls can lead to serious injury – and sometimes death – in the aged population. For this reason, the CDC is urging anyone who is a caregiver to educate themselves and their clients on the importance of mobility aid safety. Here are some basic guidelines that the caregiver can follow to ensure the safety of their elderly charges.

  • Maintain a clear path through heavily traveled areas of the home, keeping clutter off the floors and stairways to avoid tripping.
  • Well lighted homes also help to prevent trips and falls.
  • Always secure electrical cords out of the walking paths in the home.
  • Regularly inspect the walking aid for breaks, cracks, or any other flaw that can hinder its reliability.
  • For clients utilizing a walker, be sure that their weight is within the guidelines set forth by the manufacturer of the walker. Some devices come with pre-determined weight limits and cannot be trusted beyond those.
  • For clients who are using canes for walking, instruct them to always carry the cane on their strongest side, since the side of the body that the cane is on will be the side bearing the brunt of their weight.
  • When climbing stairs with a cane, the elder should use their strongest leg first.
  • When descending stairs with a cane, they should use their weaker leg first.
  • Have the client properly fitted for their walking aid according to their height. Walking aids that are too tall or too short become hindrances and often times stumbling blocks.
  • For elderly clients who use walkers, be sure that all folding parts of the walker are locked into the correct position to prevent buckling upon use.
  • Walkers should never be used to ascend stairs or escalators.

The most effective way to decrease the number of walking aid related falls is by educating the client as well as the caregiver. Getting instruction on proper usage from the medical supply company that provides the walking aids is just as important as investing the time into choosing the correct aid.