A walking cane is probably the most common mobility device prescribed for seniors. When used properly, a walking cane will increase your base of support and reduce strain on the legs and back as it helps you move forward. A walking cane requires you have enough strength in your arm, since the arm must partially support the body’s weight. If you have a slight problem with balance or instability, some weakness in your leg or some pain from a condition like rheumatoid arthritis, a cane may be enough to help you compensate and provide support.
Most canes are made of hardwood or aluminum. The most familiar walking cane style is the straight-tip style with a C-shaped or crook handle and a single rubber-capped bottom. This basic style is usually inexpensive, but if you have hand pain or discomfort, you may find it difficult to grasp. A walking cane with a functional offset handle, contoured similar to the gripping hand, is more easily grasped and provides better support. Other straight-tip canes may have different handle styles such as ball-shaped, slanted or stirrup-like. An ortho-cane has a palm grip with a curved staff on top for a firmer grip and better balance.
Look for a 1”-2” wide rubber tip at the end for adequate traction and safety. Wide-based canes offer more stability and support—“tripod” canes have 3 and “quad” canes have 4 rubber-capped feet at their base.
You may be able to make your favorite cane more secure with an attachable wider base, like the Able Tripod Cane Base/Tip that allows almost any cane to become self-standing on a variety of flat surfaces.
Many styles are adjustable. Just as it sounds, an adjustable cane can be easily shortened or lengthened to suit your height, enabling you to get just the right length for you. Folding canes are a great option for using away from your home and when traveling. When you get into a car, for instance, you simply collapse a folding cane, then unfold it when you arrive at your destination. Folding canes also pack easily in a suitcase or carry-on bag.
Whatever walking cane style you choose, it should be properly measured and/or adjusted. At the right height, it should allow you to stand with both shoulders level and the angle of the flexed elbow at between 25 to 30 degrees.
With the popularity and useful function of walking canes, gone are the days of the back brown wooden cane as your only option. Today’s styles include not just bright colors, but also interesting patterns, from paisley to flowers to even the red hats of the women’s group, The Red Hat Society. You’re sure to find a design that suits your personality and becomes an accessory that keeps you mobile and active.