Keeping on the Move with Mobility Aids

July 14, 2014
Keeping mobility aids in good repair and using specific tools increases their range of use

Keeping mobility aids in good repair and using specific tools increases their range of use

Balance issues, difficulty with walking, and vision impairment may require the use of certain mobility aids.  Some mobility tools are as basic as shower grab bars and as jazzy as motorized scooters.

For seniors who use mobility aids, or for caregivers who assist seniors with the use of such devices, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Stick to it.  Most canes, crutches, and walkers are sold with little rubber feet to help prevent slippage, especially on wet or waxed surfaces. If a device does not come with rubber feet, these can be purchased separately.  If a device does have rubber feet, they should be checked regularly for wear and tear and replaced when appropriate.
  • Pad appropriately.  Many walkers, crutches, and other mobility aids come with rubber hand grips. If a device is missing grips, they can also be purchased separately. Some seniors find that rubber grips cause some irritation; consider covering these in a durable, non-slippery fabric if that is the case.
  • Extend as needed.  Walkers need to be set at just the right height for users.  If a walker is too short for a person – which often happens when a senior borrows or inherits a walker that formerly belonged to someone else – see whether it can accommodate extenders and if so, obtain a set.
  • Consider a carrier bag.  Senior loved ones may need to get around while carrying items such as purses. For those who use walkers, attach a tote bag or basket to the walker so that they can place their items inside. (Be aware that the items should not be very heavy, as that can affect the balance of the walker.)  Some people in wheelchairs also find carrier bags on the backs of their chairs helpful.
  • Get into duplication.  If a senior has a stair lift chair in his or her home, it may be a good idea to keep duplicates of frequently needed items upstairs and downstairs. This helps eliminate the need to carry items on the lap while in the lift chair.
  • Get hooked.  Place cane hooks in appropriate places throughout the house so that senior loved ones have regular places to put canes. The hooks should be easy for cane users to reach and should be located near areas where such ones tend to spend a lot of time: the favorite chair, the bed, the bathroom, etc.
  • Speed control.  Motorized scooters can be tricky to operate, especially when learning.  Consider utilizing the speed governor, especially during the student driving period.
  • Get personal.  Many mobility aids look similar, especially in a crowded restaurant.  Craft tape comes in a wide array of colors and patterns that will allow your senior loved one to personalize their walker or cane in a unique way so that the equipment is easily recognized.

Many seniors use mobility aids, either regularly or temporarily; small modifications such as those listed above can help to make these items even more effective and comfortable.

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