Choosing the best walking stick for an elderly person means introducing a simple-to-use aid into their day-to-day life that also improves their well-being.
A walking stick can be used in the case of aching joints, for example, or when a person becomes overtired when walking.
Before choosing the walking stick, take a look here at the questions you should ask yourself first. Choosing this aid is a composite process, in which the specific needs of the final user should be assessed, asking a specialist for an opinion if pathologies are present. The “normality” the aid aims to restore, as it allows brief and frequent movement around the home, short walks outside or elsewhere, should also be assessed.
Returning to walking sticks, a wide range of aspects can be considered to classify them. These include the material, the handle, the shape of the base and the various optional features that can be added. However, the first thing to remember is that the stick is a support used to provide balance at the person’s side. A walking stick is therefore a great help when someone limps and is also a useful support for the “healthy” limb if the other limb is aching.
What walking stick should you choose?
The first feature to assess is the material and here the choice is strictly related to the final user’s weight and height, as well as the level of support expected. A wooden stick can only be adjusted in height, so it is not recommended for a heavier person, who would be better supported by an anodised aluminium stick.
Aluminium sticks also have a higher number of adjustments, which means they can be specifically adapted to the user’s needs and style of use. If the stick is being used as a support, for example, it must be adjusted to be held close to the feet, whereas if it is used for balance, it must be adjusted to a greater height and held away from the feet.
Walking sticks also have various types of handles, ranging from the classic umbrella shape or t-shape to the open anatomical type, which follows the line of the hand, to the closed anatomical type, which can be gripped according to the shape of the hand, and the ergonomic type, which adapts to the surface of the hand. This aspect is extremely important for anyone who uses the stick all the time and choosing the wrong handle can lead to pain or inflammation of the hand or wrist.
When examining these preliminary aspects, it is important to remember when the walking stick will be used. Where the stick will be used is important in choosing the rubber antislip tips, which should have a wide base if more support is needed and allow the stick to be held vertically even when not in use, or a wide and oscillating base when the patient needs not only support, but also assistance in walking.
The occasion and the methods of use are also aspects to consider when assessing carrying of the stick in terms of weight, and also the need for optional features, such as a led light on the tip or a courtesy light, fixed or flashing and with an acoustic warning in the handle. The walking stick could also have a wrist strap or be telescopic, allowing it to be closed and placed in a bag.
There are also cases in which a stick, even with a wide tip, does not provide sufficient support for the final user. In these cases, it is appropriate to use a tripod or quadripod walking stick, an aid that has three (in the first case) or four feet and a similar structure to a normal walking stick on the upper part.
Tripods and quadripods are available with both similar handles to simple walking sticks and with forearm support, which extends the grip to the arm to provide greater stability when walking.
These aids are an alternative to a walker and can be used singly or in a pair. A sector professional should be consulted for specific indications to ensure optimal use.