About 20 percent of people ages 65 and older require the help of a cane or walker to get around. But, if not chosen correctly, that mobility help can become a danger.
If you’re in the market for a cane, it’s important to understand the options and how to pick the best one for you. Many factors go into choosing one to help with functional mobility as opposed to style or fun.
Let’s take a look at what you should consider and how to choose the best walking cane for you.
While the word cane might bring to mind images of Victorian gentlemen strolling through the park, you have more options than the straight sticks they often carried. To improve walk and balance, you’ll likely be choosing among four main types.
The C cane is a straight, single-top option with a curved handle like an old-style umbrella. This is a fairly basic style that is good for those who need minor assistance with balance issues.
Functional grip models are also straight and single-tipped, but the handle is straight rather than curved. This allows for a more natural grip on the cane and more control over it. It’s good for those who need more support to help with balance.
An offset cane differs in that the handle curves back at the top and straightens out along your forearm. This centers your weight on the strongest part of the cane to provide superior stability.
A quad cane features four tips on the ground forming a rectangular base. It gives you the greatest amount of stability, support, and balance.
The length of the cane needs to pair correctly with your height to ensure comfort and safety. Too long and the cane becomes more difficult to pick up and move as you walk. Too short and you’ll be leaning more heavily on that side, which throws your balance off rather than improve it.
Measure for your cane while wearing shoes and standing straight with your arms to your sides. The top of the cane should come to the crease of your wrist with your elbow bent about 15 to 20 degrees. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you measure to ensure the right fit.
Custom walking canes are available if your height or weight makes it difficult to find a standard cane that fits you well.
Once you know what style and size you need, you have a few other features to consider to get the right cane. To start with, the handle of the cane might be designed to fit the right or left hand, so you need to know which side you’ll be using it on before purchasing.
When it comes to material, wood is common and traditional and offers a wealth of options. Aluminum is lighter and more budget-friendly, however. Carbon fiber is a newer option and weighs the least by far.
Cane tips come in plastic, rubber, or a combination. Outdoor use can damage soft rubber tips, while plastic is more durable but can scuff floors.
Get Mobility Help With a Good Cane
Canes have a storied history as the mark of a gentleman or a place to stash prohibition liquor, but for those who need help with mobility, a cane serves a most pragmatic role. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun choosing a cane once you find one that fits your specific need and body. The right cane can help you walk better and improve your posture and add style.
If you found this article helpful, check out others on our site related to mobility help and disability.