Fall Prevention and Mobility Aids

The population size of people over 75 is rapidly increasing. While more people are enjoying good health, physical abilities will inevitably decrease due to degeneration, disuse, and diseases.  As the mobility declines, fear of falls is eventually in everybody's mind. To maintain a safe mobility, while it is important to exercises to keep up leg strength and balance, it is equally important to use appropriate walking aids to help prevent falls.

Common mobility aids include crutches, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages using each of them.

Canes provide the least support for people with a mobility impairment. But they are small, light and very easy to carry. They should be used when the person is only slightly unstable and has good upper extremity strength and coordination, i.e., people who have some minor pain and weakness of one foot/ leg. They should be used only for short distance walking, but they are great for people to go up and down stairs where they can hold onto the railing on one side and the cane the other side.

Crutches are for people who are unable to bear full weight on one leg but have very good arm strength. A pair of crutches can help you precisely control how much weight you put on one foot: none at all, slight, or half. The use of them requires more strength and coordination for most seniors with physical disabilities.

Walkers will provide the most support for people who are still able to walk but are unsteady, weak and dizzy. Different types of walkers with a different combination of stability, mobility and weight suite people with varying conditions. But overall, they are heavier and bigger than other types of walking aids.

People will have to consider using wheelchairs when they have frequent falls even with a walker. The most difficult barrier for people to start using a walking aid is a psychological one. They often tell you they feel embarrassed for using them or they sometimes think their permanent impairment is only temporary. Lots of persuasion and  some professional help would be required to keep our seniors safe.