What You Need to Know about Your Senior's New Walker
Hilary and Greg Eldridge
The first time your elderly family member tries to use a walker she might get pretty frustrated. That's because these simple assistive devices can take a little getting used to. But once she's adept with her walker, she'll be ready to go.
Using a Walker Takes Some Practice at First
It can take a lot of convincing to get your elderly family member to use a walker at all and then she can easily become frustrated with it. Although they look incredibly easy to use, there can be a learning curve for some people with a walker, especially if she's dealing with old injuries and pain. It takes some practice for your elderly family member to become proficient with her walker. Give it a try yourself and you might see a little bit of why that might be tough for her.
Walkers Are Highly Adjustable
Sometimes people are surprised to find that walkers are actually very adjustable. You can raise or lower the height and some include wheels, which might have brakes or locks. The walker's height should be just right so that your elderly family member's upper body is relaxed and not straining to reach the handles. A physical therapist can help your senior to get her walker perfectly adjusted for her.
There's a Trick to Walking with a Walker
Once your senior gets the hang of it, using a walker is pretty easy. It needs to be in front of her at arm's length. The first step is to move the walker forward just a bit. The walker helps her to balance as she uses her weaker leg to step forward closer to the frame of the walker. She shouldn't ever step all the way to the inside of the walker. With that one leg forward, now she needs to press down on the walker to balance herself as she steps forward with the other leg.
The Walker Shouldn't Be Used to Help Her Stand Up
A common misconception is that your loved one can now use her walker to balance and to support her weight when she's actively sitting down or standing up. They're not stable enough for her to rely on for this type of action. It's much better for your senior to use the chair itself to help her sit, then use the walker to help her to maintain her balance once she's fully up.
It can help a lot for your senior to have elder care providers at home with her while she's using her walker. They can spot check her technique and help her to stay safe while she's using it. They can also let you know if they're seeing any issues that you need to investigate further.
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