Walkers vs. Canes for Elderly Adults

Walkers vs. Canes for Elderly Adults

 January 26, 2018

A man and a nurse are standing together

Choosing A Walking Device

From neurological conditions and joint problems to poor vision and age-related illnesses, there are many factors that can cause an elderly adult to have balance and mobility problems. Sometimes, family members are the first to notice that an elderly relative has trouble with remaining steady while they walk. Often, a fall can scare seniors and family members into looking at mobility aids. The most common choices for mobility aids are walkers and canes.

It’s important for seniors to select the walking device that is best suited to their needs. Despite popular belief, walkers and canes are quite different and one may be better for an elderly adult than the other. A few deciding factors include what kind of assistance they need, the amount of physical exertion they have and the amount of weight support. With a doctor or physical therapist, family caregivers and aging adults can figure out whether they need a walker or a cane for support and stability.


More About Canes

Simple yet effective, canes are the most mobile and least intrusive of the two walking devices. They are ideal for seniors with mild to moderate balance issues. Different styles of canes include the traditional curved handle cane, vertical grip cane, and tripod/quad canes. When elderly adults feel unsteady or off balance when walking, a cane may be the answer.

Some of the advantages of using a cane include the fact that they are lightweight and easy to use in small or crowded spaces. They are also inexpensive and quite portable. However, canes can’t support much of the body’s weight and really provides support to someone that can mostly walk on their own. Canes can also cause someone’s hand or wrist to hurt on one side.


All About Walkers

A walker is designed to support up to 50 percent of a person’s weight. Walkers come in two styles, the standard and the wheeled version. Because of its four legs, a walker is much more stable than a cane. The user holds onto it with both hands, so there is less strain on hands and wrists as with a cane.

Walkers are bigger and can take up more space. This means the elderly adult needs to have the adequate upper body strength to manipulate it all day long. They must lift the walker up and move it forward as they walk. Wheeled versions are easier to push but slightly less stable. In some cases, seniors can develop a sore back or shoulders from the stooped posture required to use a walker.

Family caregivers that are helping their elderly relative decide between a walker and a cane should consult with a doctor. Not only is important to an elderly person’s health and wellness to pick the right walking aid, but they need to be taught how to properly use it. That way, the elderly adult will be able to walk with confidence and pride, knowing they have support.

If you or an aging loved-one are considering elder care in Oakland, PA, please contact the caring staff at In-Home Quality Care today. Serving the Greater Pittsburgh Area since 1990! Call 412-421-5202