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What aids are available to help elderly people walk?

Outdoor-Mobility-Aids1Aging not only becomes apparent in the appearance of the skin and hair, it also has a marked effect on the body’s steadiness and ability to move. This is due to the body’s natural deterioration, though issues such as arthritis can also play a part. This can make moving around the house a difficult task and the prospect of going outside in the fresh air a distant hope. However, many aids are available to help elderly people remain independent and walk with renewed confidence.

First, seek advice from an Occupational Therapist

Before you invest in any type of mobility aid, it is recommended that you seek advice from an occupational therapist. These trained professionals will carry out an assessment of the individual and make recommendations as to those aids that are most suitable. This knowledge can prove vital for in creating a safe, controlled environment for an elderly person. Now that we know that, let’s take a look at some of the aids that can help elderly people to walk with renewed confidence.

Walking stick

This is an aid that provides additional stability for elderly people when walking indoors or outdoors. You should make sure that any walking stick you choose is the correct length, or it may mean an elderly person becomes unsteady. Walking sticks tend to feature a rubber ferrule at the bottom which provides additional grip and allows the user to remain steady. Comfort also needs to be considered in terms of the handle and general usability. The technology is advancing, though, with a ‘smart walking stick’ having recently being developed by Fujitsu to include the handy addition of built-in sat-nav. Perhaps a less costly accessory for your walking stick is a cane strap to provide additional support, while there are now also models available that have four grippers at the bottom for improved balance.

Walking frames

These provide additional support for elderly people who may be unstable on their feet or for when they are recovering from an operation. Walking frames are available in different sizes so it is important to choose the correct size in terms of width and height to ensure the user is comfortable and feels safe. A standard walking frame will have four legs, rubber ferrules at the bottom and hand grips. In order to safely use a walking frame, you should walk with the frame surrounding your front and sides, and have your hands firmly on the grips. When in motion, you pick up and place the frame a short distance in front of you, then walk to it and repeat the process. There are now also wheeled walkers available to provide added assistance.

Grab rails

Grab rails can be installed both inside and outside the home to help prevent falls and provide support for elderly people. Grab Rails may prove to be a helpful addition in a number of rooms including the bathroom, bedroom and on the stairs. Where additional support is required outside the home it is sensible to install a grab rail near to the door and in any others areas where additional support is needed. You will need to make sure that any grab rail is fixed safely and securely, however, including such factors as making sure the metal part of the grab rail is earthed before installation.

As a final note, I would like to remind readers that it is advisable for elderly people to seek advice from an occupational therapist before investing in any type of mobility aid.

This guest article is provided by Carol Robinson who regularly works with Manage at Home on their blog.

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