101-year-old: The Right Cane–Mobility and Aging in Place–4 years after Broken Hip Surgery 1

USING AND CHOOSING CANES WISELY

Because of R’s strong desire to remain in her home of over 65 years and live independently, alone–she may have put more thought into cane selection than many.

IMG_3693The cane she eventually purchased, she first used in rehab. While she used many canes in rehab, this one felt best to her, because of its handle, which is broad. Her palm rests on it, instead of fingers wrapping the usual more rounded handle. Thus, it felt like added support.

To backtrack a bit–

Shortly before her release from rehab a cane salesman visited her in her room. (Don’t know if this is true of most rehab centers.) I happened to be there.

He brought a good supply of canes, but none with the handle R swears by for stability and confidence. She told him what she wanted, which he didn’t have. (No one said she had to purchase his canes…I think it was a “service.”)

The day she signed out of rehab, they let her borrow the cane she liked  best. She took it to the surgical supply store. Not a stock item, It needed to be ordered and would take 2 weeks. R. was eager to get started with it. My husband ordered it through Amazon, where itt was less expensive and arrived at R’s home in 3 days. I can’t remember if Medicare covered it.

A year or so later R saw and ordered the HurryCane. One of its attributes–advertised on TV– was that it stood up by itself. R’s home is carpeted. It did not stand up on carpet. She phoned the company and spoke to “a very nice man” who said she could return it and get full credit (which she did). Although that cane didn’t work for her, she appreciated the ease of return.

She then tried a little rubber gadget that would attach to the bottom of her cane so it would stand up by itself.  But first the existing rubber tip needed to be removed. The rubber gadget didn’t work and R says the original tip could not be put back on her cane–necessitating another purchase of the original cane –with the broad handle.

When R bought the replacement cane, she went back to her rehab place to have them fit the cane so the handle was at the proper height for her. She was told when she left rehab 4 years ago how important it is that the cane is fit properly by someone knowledgeable. She’s convinced that’s why some people who, don’t stand up straight and walk properly with their cane, have problems.

R has always been creative in solving her problems. That’s undoubtedly one reason she has been able to remain independent for so long. Currently her walker, which she loves, provides a place to rest her cane in the standing position.  It’s sort of hooked to one side (see photo). It stands up and ready–always in the kitchen. And when she’s walking to other parts of her one-story home, she can lay the cane on a bed, chair, etc. where it’s easily accessible.

As parents age, inevitable problems arise. Loss of almost all vision in R’s left eye and macular degeneration in her other eye are her current concerns. Mobility isn’t one of them thanks to her cane and a walker (next post).

 
Related: Tips for Choosing and Using Canes Mayo Clinic Slide Presentation

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Aging Parents: 101-Year-Old, 4 Years After Broken Hip Surgery, Still Mobile and Living Alone

To begin the New Year, a happy follow-up–on Sr. Advisor R’s once broken hip.

Four years ago this month R left the rehab center after spending 4 months there. At the time Medicare only covered 3 months. Fortunately R had a secondary policy that helped with the 4th month. Don’t know what Medicare covers today. Do know that getting all information about insurance coverage, in advance, makes sense. It provides a framework for decision-making. That’s always helpful.

Today, at 101, R is completely mobile. She now walks with a cane when she goes out (which she didn’t do before she broke her femur). She uses her cane at home when she “feels unsure.”

While “feeling unsure” isn’t something younger people normally experience when walking or driving a car, it seems to be a feeling older people are attuned to. For example, I remember Edie (a Woman’s Club member in her late 90’s who aged well) saying something like “On days I don’t feel sure of myself, I don’t drive.”  “Know Thyself” seems important for aging well independently.

What has changed since R’s surgery:

R says she has no mobility problem–gets around fine, however–

The leg affected by her broken hip has never been as limber or as strong as it was before the surgery and is weaker than her other leg. Exercise is a must.

The muscles are weaker (even though she has religiously done the exercises learned in rehab since returning home). That leg also has less range of motion. For example, she says “I can’t just raise that leg (while sitting down) to put on a sock without help from my hand to rest my leg on a stool that I put in front of me. Then I can put the sock on.”

“If you don’t exercise that leg you’ll have trouble walking. So many just sit in a chair and don’t bother to do the exercises and pretty soon that leg doesn’t work so they walk less and sit more,” says R. “Many people just give up. I don’t want that to happen. I’m either going to be out of here (dead)–or I’m going to continue doing what I have to do. If you want your independence, you have to keep doing–your exercises and everything else.”

R credits the right cane (see next post) for giving her ease of mobility. She’s certain that the cane she’s now using is a big reason she’s been able to continue to go out with friends and live independently, alone. It was an important purchase that has helped her age well.

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus practical information–to help parents age well.

The Right Cane for Aging Parents

Does Your Parent’s Cane Fit?

Lucite, metal, wood. Curved handle, straight handle, cushioned handle. Just any cane is not a solution. How many older people do we see with poor posture as they walk with their cane? Can this do damage?

Three reasons for a properly-selected cane

1. While a cane should add stability and confidence, isn’t it logical that an improperly fitted cane can shift weight incorrectly, potentially leading to other problems.

2.  A cane coupled with poor posture makes people look even older and more helpless. It invites being treated in a way that diminishes independence and self-esteem.

3. The “right” cane is usually not that expensive, but pays big dividends when it enables aging parents to walk properly. Thus having qualified people involved in cane selection makes sense, but doesn’t necessarily happen.

Buying-The-Right-Cane Experience

Sr. Advisor R (now fully recovered from her broken hip), needed to order a cane–before leaving rehab last January–to use at home. R knew which cane was right for her–based on trying an assortment of canes in physical therapy, having the physical therapist’s approval, and her comfort level which included a comfortable grip. Unfortunately it was not among the assortment of canes brought by the salesman who visited the rehab facility. It could be ordered but that would take time and R was being discharged within a few days. So she rejected the salesman’s canes, thinking it important to continue with a cane she knew worked well for her.

The rehab center personnel checked the local surgical supply company, learned the cane R wanted wasn’t in stock, gave us the manufacturer and model #, and offered to loan R the cane she had been using until her new one arrived.

Amazon.com to the rescue! As I recall, Medicare covers the cost of 1 cane, but perhaps it must be ordered in rehab or from the surgical supply store. Ordering the exact cane from Amazon was simple, less expensive (in the $20 range as I recall), and came within a few days.

Information

For people who want cane-selection knowledge, Mayo Clinic’s site offers excellent information: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/canes/HA00064. An old NY Times article http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/18/news/staying-upright-choosing-a-cane-that-fits-right-and-feels-right.html discusses problems that can result from improperly fitted canes.

While cane style is no longer limited to your grandparents’ old design, selecting the proper cane and grip remains predicated on certain measurements and one’s requirements. Properly fitted canes give aging parents the best chance for healthy mobility…another important factor in helping parents age well.
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You might also want to check out “How to Buy a Cane”  http://www.ehow.com/how_2050245_buy-cane.html

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus practical information–to help parents age well.