Falls are a leading cause of injury and death among seniors. Yet some of our elders resist adopting mobility aids that could prevent falls, instead improving their balance and allowing greater freedom of movement. If you’re concerned about your mom or dad’s balance or mobility, here’s how to convince your aging parent to use a cane.
Involve Their Doctor
Many older folks are far more open to taking advice from their doctor than from their children. If you’ve noticed your parent grabbing chairs and walking with their hand against a wall, they may be having balance issues. When they insist they’re not having any trouble getting around, challenge them to get a professional assessment.
A doctor can perform simple tests to check balance and movement. They can assess reflexes and ask the right questions to elicit information that may reveal joint pain, dizziness, or muscle weakness, which all affect balance and mobility. Getting an assessment from a trusted physician could open your parent’s mind to considering mobility aids.
See if you can make a deal with your resistant parent. Try to convince them to try a cane around the house. No one is looking, so there’s no cause to be embarrassed or concerned about appearances. They may discover that a cane is so helpful their resistance will dissolve.
If you get a parent to agree to try a cane, make sure you don’t make common mistakes when buying a cane for them. Get accurate measurements, and consult your parent’s doctor or a physical therapist about what type of cane is best for their condition.
Present Facts Respectfully
Gather research on the number of seniors who sustain injuries from falls. A large percentage end up with broken hips, and many of those pass away within six months of their injury. Make a list of your parent’s friends who’ve suffered falls, and of those who wisely use canes.
Approach your parent when they’re relaxed and alert. Respectfully ask if you can discuss the subject with them. Couch your facts and statistics within expressions of love and concern. You care about your parent, and don’t want them to suffer a horrible injury and associated prolonged pain and treatment.
Update Your Parent on Available Styles
Your parent may not be aware that walking canes have come a long way in recent years. They’re available in colors and patterns. They come in classic wood but also carbon steel. Some are adjustable, and some collapsible for easy storage. Decorative and ergonomic handles are also available.
Convincing an aging parent to use a cane is a delicate dance. Express concern and love, answer fears and objections with facts, and allow your parent to complain. Canes aren’t just for old people. They’re for stylish people, with the bonus of providing some stability for walking. Your parent might not have looked at it from this perspective. Good luck in helping them make a decision that could improve—or even save—their life.