It’s been said that dogs are the man’s best friend, but that all changes once you grow old or have suffered serious medical injuries because then the trusty walking cane will swiftly replace the four-legged friends on the priority list. There’s no doubt about the fact that a suitable cane improves the mobility of an elderly person by a large degree, though the product should still be chosen with utmost care. Note that patients suffering from arthritis or neurological impairments, however, require medically-tested canes and not walking sticks. The latter are more like fashion accessories for light strolls or hidden self-defense tools for seniors.
Grip, material and the tip are the three major aspects of a cane’s usefulness but modern versions also boast numerous other features – such as foldable shaft, bending feet and a built-in flash light – that can create an even easier walking experience.
Recommended Walking Canes
Finding the perfect cane is daunting but not impossible. Always look for quality products recommended by the community and keep an eye out for unique features. Here are five products that are worth a closer look.
HurryCane Freedom Edition Folding Cane With T Handle
What makes HurryCane truly special is the panning joint that connects the rod the base. The rotatable connection lends an element of maneuverability and means it’s also easier on the wrist. The cane in itself is very light and stable, only weighing around one pound but still withstanding up to 350 pounds.
Hugo Mobility Quadpod Offset Cane With Ultra Stable Cane
Furthermore, a small button hidden at the side of the grip controls the height of the shaft and a simple push is enough to change it. The lower half ends in special quad base legs that move the suction cups a bit farther apart from each other so that the cane can stand firmly on its own, while also enabling the person to safely walk in grass or even in snow.
Folding Cane by Vive for Men & Women
The folding cane sports a derby handle in order to reduce hand fatigue and muscle cramp, while the tip ends in a single-point rubbery foot. This could be a bit limiting when it comes to passing rough terrain, but luckily the model is compatible with quad base legs too.
My Cane With Pivoting Quad Base
The rod ends in a pivoting joint capable of rotating the quadpod tip in all directions. Interestingly, the bottom has four anti-skid pads positioned in such a way that they form one big circle, therefore maximizing their grip. The product also comes with a money-back guarantee as the manufacturer is willing to refund those who are unsatisfied with their purchase.
Medline Offset Handle Cane
The weight capacity is a little limited at 250 pounds, which is why Medline subtly suggests users don’t carry heavy purses on the side strap.
There are two major factors that have a strong effect on the quality of a cane: weight and sturdiness. As such, the right material is different for each person; the general rule is that frail old seniors and recovering patients are better to have lightweight canes that doesn’t put too much strain on their movement, while larger people should pick a product manufactured with a strong alloy capable of supporting the whole body.
In the past, walking aids were made of the most beautiful parts of ash and cherry trees for an end product that was not only pleasing to the eye but proven to be a steady companion of seniors for many years. Indeed, wooden canes balance durability and weight pretty well, but compared to other materials they have some serious flaws. Most manufacturers tend to create walking sticks with wood instead of canes and aren’t foldable or have re-adjustable heights. They’re also more like to wear away through constant use or get splintered if not treated with a proper coating.
Aluminum is the standard material that most walking canes are made out of. It’s light but still strong, withstands the weather and has a stylish elegance to it. Aluminum is also easily bent and shaped to accommodate features like a foldable shaft and a rotatable joint for a more natural tip. The only downside of this type of alloy is that it has an exact weight limit that it can handle, a detail you should pay attention to while browsing.
Steel is a rarely used for canes because it’s too heavy to be carried around all day. Seniors and patients suffering from neurological illnesses are suggested to avoid from walking with it because the steel shafts act like an anchor that requires constant effort to move, potentially damaging the joints even more. On the other hand, patients with a larger build and good arm strength might well consider the option to have an extra durable cane at their disposal.
Carbon Fiber Canes
On paper, carbon fiber would be the optimal material as it marries all the benefits of the previous types. It’s lightweight, strong as titanium, weatherproof and comes in many colors for those who would still like to consider their walking aid as a fashion accessory. Carbon fiber canes would be recommended for both seniors and patients regardless their mass or build if it just weren’t so expensive. Aluminum products of the same caliber are considerably cheaper and just as reliable. But as it stands now, carbon fiber is more of a step-up from steel canes.
The tip is quite literally the sticking point of a cane. Environmental awareness is the keyword here; when matching the right terrain, the feet can improve the carrier’s balance and prevent falling.
Single-point tips are considered to be the standard style for house-bound seniors and patients. Their small size and rubbery nature makes them perfect for traversing between rooms as it sticks easily to wooden and glazed surfaces. However, experts point out that single point soles are only really viable for people living with arthritis.
The main purpose of a quad base leg is to provide stability in every situation. The four suction cups help the wielder keep their balance on uneven terrain such as a grainy driveway, sand, or a grassy backyard. On top of all that, this type of endpoint is the best for patients suffering from neurological impairments. Quadpod canes are also recommended because they boost the user’s confidence when they first start walking after a long illness.
The importance of the head is often overlooked by customers even though it’s the part most responsible for comfort and weight distribution.
This is a traditional design that even pops up in vintage Chaplin movies. Round handles offer a good grip and a large curved surface to lean on, plus the cane is easy to hang. Still, you’ll only come across it with walking sticks because the design is unsuitable for patients and aging adults with disabilities.
Unlike their round counterparts, derby handles are much better when it comes to reducing the weight pressure from the user, which in turn helps those suffering from joint problems. Such handles are convenient to grab or lean on while still looking stylish. Since the main head is unfit for hanging the cane, most products come with an attached noose.
There is no doubt about it that offset handles are the best when it comes to distributing the weight of the user. The overall design is meant to encourage people to rely on the head without fear as it focuses the mass onto the center of the cane. In this sense the chance of falling with this handle is the lowest.
Fall Safety Net
Proper walking canes contribute a lot to the senior’s feeling of safety and overall protection, but they won’t completely eliminate the possibility of a fall. Walking aids in general are good for traversing uneven terrain and keeping the user’s balance, but they do very little if the patient suddenly experiences dizziness or is hit by a heart attack. In order to prepare for health-related emergencies, the best idea is to opt for a medical alert system.
Contrary to canes – which are preventive tools – personal emergency response systems are meant to react to a situation as quickly as possible, providing the wearer of the help button with an easy way to summon for help. This safety net is further expanded by a fall detection pendant that uses built-in gyroscopes and sensors to keep track of the patient’s status. When it detects signs of a sudden collapse it automatically alerts the operators who in turn dispatch the paramedics and call the relatives.
Since fragile old men and women and patients of neurological diseases are often unable to stand on their own, the security of a quick reaction like this might save their life.