Elderly falls are not uncommon. According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 Americans aged 65 or older falls each and every year. Health officials say that more than 3% of those falls result from walkers and canes. That means nearly 47,000 senior Americans end up in the emergency room each year from their own walker or cane. Although some of these might be minor, many are fatal. Here are some ways to prevent such falls.
1. Elderly Falls due to Wrong Size Walker
Many of the reasons people fall from their walkers is because it is either too small or too big. Besides the obvious comfort factor, having a walker that fits your frame is gravely important. Standing up straight, your walker handles should line up with your wrist. When leaning down using the walker, there should only be about a 15 degree bend to your elbow. Walkers are adjustable, so make sure the settings are right for you!
2. Size the Walker for Your Home
Depending on what you need your walker for, it must fit through the spaces that you walk regularly. Measure your doorways, hallways, and tight fits between couches to determine what width walker is best for your living environment. Not having to worry about squeezing through a space limits the possibility of falling from this issue.
3. Learn How to Walk Properly With Your Walker
Learning the proper form of when using your walker is equally if not more important than its size. You need to retrain your body’s walking form to adjust to using a new device. Make sure that the walker is always just one step ahead of you at all times. Putting it too far ahead of you can cause a fall. Having it too close can cause you to put too much pressure on it. Standing up straight and being aware of the distance the walker is from your body can prevent falling.
Walkers are a great resource when you start to experience balance or mobility issues. When purchasing your walker, make sure it fits you and your space. Practice the proper walking techniques to prevent falls.
“So many people use canes or walkers these days that it’s easy to forget that it may take some time and practice to learn how to use them correctly and safely.” – AARP Home Alliance
If you have questions about your walker or are recovering from a fall, contact ECRC Physical Therapy for help.