Should you be using a walking stick? Check out the following video:
Throughout the course of running The Golden Concepts, we've had quite a number of people asking us when is the moment that they should encourage their loved ones to use a walking stick. While it is impossible to pinpoint the exact moment as a person's mobility is likely to deteriorate gradually, we have identified some key signs to be aware of, that are likely to hint that a walking stick may come in handy for your loved ones:
- Over-reliance on others for support
- Over-reliance on surrounding surfaces for support (tables, walls, chair backings)
- Shuffling of feet, uneven steps
- Tendency to walk slower and cautiously, often with both hands placed behind their back
- Tendency to fall or trip
- Heavy impact landing on stronger leg while minimising putting weight on weaker leg
There is often quite a lot of resistance from seniors when it comes to using walking sticks as they may be afraid of being seen as "old" and "weak", but let's put it simply- the benefits of using a walking stick far outweigh the perceived negative effects of a "loss of face". Some common benefits of using walking sticks include:
- Largely reduce the chances of falls (1 in 4 elderly persons fall)
- More balance and confidence when walking
- Alleviates pressure on the weaker leg
Fall prevention is important as falls may lead to fractures, most likely rendering an elderly person inactive for a long period of time. It also commonly causes a Fear of Falling syndrome, which is likely to prevent seniors from wanting to leave the house and carrying out their usual activities. Such social and psychological effects will largely affect their quality of life on the whole.
It is therefore important to help your elderly loved ones to understand the need for using walking sticks, and to constantly encourage them to use it especially on days when their legs aren't feeling the best. I always encourage people to get their loved ones started with walking aids in their home environment, where they are more comfortable and less conscious of what others think of them. Even if they ultimately only use it within their homes, they will reduce their chances of falling at home, and that is definitely better than nothing. Over time, we can only hope that they will use it more often as they get to feel the benefits of using it- I've not come across any elderly person who has not found a walking stick useful after trying it! In fact, many of them often comment that they feel much more confident, especially when climbing up and down the stairs.
Let's encourage our loved ones to remain active and healthy, and take a step towards changing the perception of using walking aids in our society. Walking sticks should not be seen as a sign of weakness, but rather, they should be seen as a sign of independence and safety.