Walking Aids Help Elderly Avoid Falls
Physiological changes associated with normal ageing reduce balance, increase reflex times and thus, increase the risk of falling.
Specifically, we rely on our vision, sensation from the feet and legs, the inner ear and processing of all these inputs by our brain.
Even in healthy old age, all of these systems show physiological decline, putting us more at risk.
Additionally, without regular exercise or training, we lose muscle strength with normal ageing and our blood pressure control on changing position (e.g. standing up) becomes less effective and may cause us to feel unsteady or even dizzy.
Chronic problems, such as osteoarthritis, eye disease and inner ear problems are also often present and increase the risk of falling.
Acute problems, such as infection, heart rhythm disturbances and drug problems, can also present as a fall or loss of consciousness. Thus falls may be caused by a single factor, but much more commonly by a combination of environmental, physiological and pathological factors in the elderly person.
Walking aids are of great benefit to prevent trips and falls
Walking aids can assist older people to maintain balance and minimise the risk of falling and you may want to consider some of these for your elderly parent or relative in and out of the home:
A bathroom can be a particularly hazardous environment for elderly people if the proper precautions are not taken. A combination of wet floors and reduced visibility caused by steam can lead to trips and falls. However, there are now many types of grab rail designed to give people the support exactly where they need it. Grab rails can either be attached permanently to walls or clipped onto the sides of baths for extra convenience. A padded rail will provide users with sensitive hands, safe and sturdy assistance whilst getting in and out of the bath.
A simple walking stick can often mean the difference between getting out and about or being confined to the home. A walking stick should be carefully selected to make sure it meets your parent’s specific needs. If the stick is required to bear weight, a carbon-fibre or aluminium model may be the most appropriate.
Many users complain that heavy, cumbersome walking sticks can become tripping hazards; are difficult to manoeuvre, and considered 'inconvenient' and 'too much hassle'. Quad sticks are dangerous and difficult to manoeuvre with a person's natural gait. The IQ Stick can be with you at all times, especially for short trips to the kitchen and bathroom.
A walking frame: many people suffering with immobility are advised to stay as active as possible, and a well-made frame will allow them to do just that. Chose a lightweight frame for manoeuvrability and you can get padded arthritic accessories to make walking more comfortable. Some models come fitted with castor wheels and brakes for added control.
Source: condensed from myagingparent.com published 5 June 2014