Seniors Falling – Part 2

Seniors Falling – Part 2

by Cole Home Health

(This is Part II of a two part series. Read Part I here.)

If a patient experiences a fall, a physician may recommend the use of an assistive device like a walker or a cane. Many patients are using these devices for the first time and though they may seem simple to use, there are some best practices that will make the experience much easier for the patient.

Using a Walker

• There are stationary walkers and reciprocal walkers. The doctor will decide which is best for the patient’s needs
• Be sure to wear flat, non-skid, supportive shoes that are firmly secured with no loose laces
• Avoid uneven surfaces such as gravel driveways or slippery, wet surfaces
• Stand straight with feet close together
• Relax shoulders and place the walker in front of you, wrapping partially around the sides of the body
• Elbows should have a slight bend (15-30 degrees) when hands are on the grips (located on the side of the walker)
• Grasp the sides of the walker and look at the position of your elbows; they should be straight
• If the elbows are not almost straight, adjust the walker’s height by finding the small button on each of the legs of the walker, pushing it in, and sliding the tube up or down
• Be sure the button locks back into place, and that both legs are adjusted to the same height

Using a Cane

• Wear flat, non-skid, supportive shoes that fit securely with no loose laces. Always check the cane’s rubber tip to be sure it has no cracks or tears and that it is wearing properly
• Avoid uneven surfaces such as gravel driveways or slippery surfaces
• Hold the cane in your hand on the stronger side and bend elbows at a 15-30 degree angle
• Position the cane about four inches to the side of your stronger leg. Distribute weight evenly between the cane and feet
• Shift your weight to the cane and the weaker leg. Move the stronger leg forward, ahead of the cane. The heel of the stronger leg should be slightly beyond the tip of the cane
• Move the cane, weak leg, and then the strong leg
• Repeat these steps. Remember to keep your back straight, head erect, shoulders, back and knees slightly bent (Perry & Potter, 2006)
With the help of an Occupational Therapist, you can brainstorm other fall-prevention strategies that can be installed and are relatively inexpensive, such as a raised toilet seat or a safety bar installed in a shower. Contact a Cole Rehabilitative location to set-up a consultation with a Cole Occupational Therapist near you for personalized recommendations.

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