Over the past few years, it seems like more and more older adults have purchased walkers. These things have evolved from the erector set look of the 60’s and 70’s, to a range of styles and colors that evoke space-age design and function. (Now if they could just figure out how to make those tennis ball feet more hip!)
You can buy them with lights, flip seats, saddle bags, horns, and hand brakes… ( can a 10 speed walker be far behind?). Candy apple red, and those metallic racing car colors are very cool! Walk into any retirement community and listen…you’ll hear folks talking about their walkers…”Gladys just got a NEW tri-wheeled model…the show-off! She trades them in every other year like clockwork…who’s she trying to impress!”
Until the 1980s, most folks were prescribed their walker by a physician…and then you’d pick up the assistive device at a local pharmacy or medical supply store. Nowadays, walkers are still available at pharmacies (which are strategically located on every 5th street corner), large grocery stores, and nearly any kind of general merchandise store. A supremely successful example of capitalism and marketing… Walkers are contributing to falls among older adults.
It’s true! This phenomenon happens daily…in homes and retirement communities across the country. Uncle Joe decides that he needs a walker…( he’s been eyeing a sweet steel blue number for a couple of months)…and with a little urging from the family, he buys it. Now the envy of his community, Uncle Joe goes everywhere with his new accoutrement …sometimes he carries it…and often gets up and forgets it.
The fact is, Uncle Joe would do better to talk with his physician about his fear of falling BEFORE buying anything. In most cases, the physician would recommend
a Fall Risks Assessment (covered by Medicare) before deciding on a course of
action. Because balance and fear of falling are health issues that can usually be addressed over just a few weeks…Uncle Joe probably wouldn’t need a walker…and he would be safer without it.
Before buying a walker or a cane…check with your physician…get
a Fall Risk Assessment…and be safe.