Senior Mobility: Selecting & Sizing a Cane

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Selecting and Sizing Elderly Canes

Changes in mobility are a common part of aging, and many seniors and older adults will find themselves needing additional support in order to safely navigate their home, and to and from leisure activities. Along with in-home support from a professional caregiver, the following are some of the most common canes that may be recommended to your loved one by his or her doctor.

Types of Canes

A cane is helpful in the case of arthritis, mild balance difficulty, and leg or foot injury. There are five basic types of canes. They can be made of wood or metal, however metal is preferable because it offers adjustable levels to ensure the right fit for the senior.

  1. Single-Point Cane– A single point cane is a rod featuring one point of contact with the ground. Added support can be provided with a curve in the upper section, called an “offset handle.” This better distributes body weight and centers a person’s grip over the stem of the cane.
  2. Quad Cane– The quad cane has a four-point base, which offers added stability for the user. The quad cane is ideal for active seniors and when assistance with stairs is often required.
  3. Seat Cane– The cane has a small, attached seat, which provides the user with rests between walking. This type of cane is great for seniors who have trouble with mobility, are living with an age-related condition or are recovering from a hospital stay or procedure.
  4. Walk Cane– Also known as a hemi-cane, this is a broad-based, aluminum device with four legs that fold when not in use. The hemi-cane is an adaptive device most often used by the post-stroke senior with leg weakness.
  5. Folding Cane– A folding cane bends in multiple places, allowing it to fold into a compact size that is easy to store when traveling. Seniors who use folding canes often do not need full mobility support, but may get tired when walking long distances.

Sizing a Cane

To obtain the proper height, have your loved one wear their normal shoes. Measure the distance from their hip joint to the floor. The hip joint is the bony bulge at the side of the leg, below the waist. Then, position your loved one’s arm with the elbow slightly bent, about 20-30 degrees. Adjust the height of the cane to match this position.

If you believe that your loved one needs assistance with daily activities as they adjust to their new cane, or could use additional support with household chores, personal care or transportation, reach out to In-home care San Antonio and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly and experienced Care Manager – (210) 495-6300.


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