Using a walker safely is one of the best ways to overcome any difficulties in walking. If you noticed that your loved ones are suffering from joint pains, or struggling to find their balance when they are walking, perhaps it is time to consider getting them a walker. A walker might also be useful for those suffering from osteoarthritis, or other musculoskeletal issues. If they are recovering from a stroke, it can help with balance, stability and increase their range of motion too. As with any new technology or assistive devices, there is a learning curve to using a walker. Read on to learn everything you’ll need to know about using a walker safely for seniors.
Get the Right Fit
There are many different types of walkers, from simple designs to fancy ones with added features like storage baskets, bells and whistles. Some are made to be lightweight while others are more heavy-duty, and are outfitted with wheels, padded seats, and even brakes! It is important to get the right type of walker to suit your needs. Your physical therapist can help you determine which model is best for you.
After you have chosen a model, the fit of the walker is just as important. When holding on to the walker, your elbows should be bent at a 15 to 20 degree angle that feels comfortable and natural. The top of the walker should also be even with the underside of your wrists when your arms are resting at the sides of your body.
Walkers that are too low and improperly fitted will force the user to stoop over as they walk and cause bad posture. This will lead to further aches and pains if not corrected. Due to the importance of the fit, it is imperative that you do not use a walker that has not been adjusted for you.
Using Your Walker Properly
Now that you have a walker that caters to your needs, the next course of action is learning how to use it properly and effectively. To start, slowly push the walker slightly ahead of you and step toward it. Then, try to keep that pattern going — push the walker slightly ahead and step forward. The walker should always not be too far ahead of you and whilst using it, always remember to keep your posture upright.
Additionally, try to keep your eyes focused in front instead of at your feet so you do not direct the walker into an obstacle. If you have issues gripping the walker, you can opt for platform walkers with arm supports that allow you to rest your elbows and forearms, taking the stress off your arms and hands.
Navigating the Terrain
Walking on even ground should be relatively easy, but trepidation usually sets in when users are faced with elevated curbs. Many places have wheelchair ramps that are ideal for those using walkers. However, you will no doubt come across a standard curb or elevated surface at some point. Here is how you can navigate steps or curbs with your walker.
- Going up a curb safely: Walk as close to the curb as possible and place the walker on the curb. Then brace your weight on the walker with your hands. Step onto the curb with your stronger leg before stepping up with your weaker leg.
- Stepping down from a curb: Walk as close to the edge of the curb as possible. Place the walker down on the ground and step down with your weaker leg. Then, support your weight on the walker with your hands and step down with your stronger leg.
Walkers are incredible mobility aids that can make your life exponentially better, but it is very important that you use them properly. Your walker will help you remain active and mobile and with time, it will become an indispensable part of your life.
If you are thinking about moving to a senior assisted living community, we would like to invite you to tour our beautiful grounds at The Park Oak Grove. Our community is designed with ease of accessibility in mind, and you’ll definitely have no problems moving around with your walker. Visit our vibrant community today, and learn all about our exclusive senior living programs and amenities!