Have you ever stopped to think about why our grandparents or elderly neighbours need walking sticks? It is certainly unusual to observe an elderly person with a cane and wonder, why they need it.
More often than not, elderly people use canes or walking sticks as their source of support when they are fatigued after an outing or even during the entire duration of their mobility. We can say that the use of these tools has increased over the years. But why? Why do they specifically need a walking stick?
Walking sticks increase the security, confidence and balance of elderly people while they are outdoors. There are also some medical reasons behind this; read on further to know all the reasons why older people use walking sticks so frequently.
What are walking sticks?
Walking sticks are the most common type of walking aid that seniors use to support their mobility issues. These devices can be made of wood, metal or plastic and provide a point of contact on the ground while walking. They also act as extra support while standing and provide balance and stability. Walking sticks come in different lengths and can be easily adjusted according to the user’s height.
What health risks are associated with a lack of stability or endurance in the elderly population?
The elderly population is at an increased risk of falls and injuries due to a decrease in stability, balance and endurance. Poor balance can be caused by reduced strength in the upper body, which is common among seniors as they age, as well as reduced vision or hearing. This can also be worsened by conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis or Parkinson’s disease. As a result, seniors are more likely to suffer from falls and life-threatening injuries.
Apart from physical injuries, lack of stability or endurance can lead to other health risks for seniors. A decrease in activity levels means that the heart and blood circulation may suffer due to inadequate exercise. In addition, research has shown that older adults with lower activity levels have higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar levels and lower body mass, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Therefore, staying active and engaging in activities that improve balance, such as attending local tai chi classes or practising yoga, is crucial for older individuals. In addition, walking sticks can be an effective tool to reduce the risk of falls while they are outdoors.
What types of walking sticks are best suited for elderly individuals?
When choosing a walking stick for an elderly individual, it is important to consider the type of terrain they will be navigating. For instance, trekking poles are ideal for navigating alternative terrains such as wooded areas or steep paths. However, if they will be mostly using their walking stick indoors or on flat surfaces, then a simple walking cane might be more suitable.
It is also important to ensure that the walking stick fits correctly and offers adequate strength and support. This can also help determine what type of walking aid would be most suitable for them.
Finally, it is important to remember that a walking stick may help improve safety and stability. It is not a substitute for physical activity or muscle strengthening. Regular exercises such as brisk walking, tai chi or yoga can help seniors maintain their balance, strength and mobility.
What advantages do walking sticks provide for elderly people?
Walking sticks are not just a fashion statement for elderly people; they come with many advantages. For starters, walking sticks help reduce the pressure on the arms and shoulders by providing an extra point of contact while walking. This helps in distributing body weight more evenly and prevents falls and injuries. Walking canes also improve posture, balance, and stability. It is especially beneficial for those who suffer from reduced mobility due to age or illness.
Apart from these physical benefits, walking sticks provide a psychological boost to seniors as well. Knowing that they have support with them enables them to go outdoors confidently. And also enjoy their walks or activities with much less fear of falling or being injured. Also, fall rates and hospitalisation rates are significantly reduced with the use of walking sticks.
It goes without saying that if you are an elderly person, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before choosing the right mobility aid. A healthcare professional can help you find the right type and size of walking stick that suits your needs and provide guidance on how to use it correctly.
However, it is important to note that walking sticks are not a substitute for physical activity or exercise. It can also make feel for elderly people like they are not as agile anymore. Regular physical activity and muscle-strengthening activities remain the primary approach to prevent falls among senior citizens.
Additionally, if you are an elderly person and observe any acute pains, fatigue or weakness in your arms, shoulders, or legs while walking. It is important to seek medical advice immediately.
In short, walking sticks can be an effective tool to help improve safety and stability in elderly individuals. However, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before selecting the best walking aid for the elderly. Additionally, seniors should also focus on maintaining their balance and strength. They can try a regular physical activity or muscle-strengthening activities such as tai chi or yoga.
Contact JB Medical today for all your elderly medical needs. We can provide you assistance in selecting the right walking stick and other mobility aids for walking, as well as advice on maintaining balance and strength.