Convincing a Parent to Use a Walker or Cane

Do you worry that your parent or loved one might be at risk for falling due to being unstable? Have you tried to convince your loved one to use an assistive device, such as a cane or walker, and been met with resistance? You have a good reason to be concerned about your parent and falling. According to the CDC falls among adults 65 and older are the most common reason for nonfatal injury and hospital admission for trauma. And 1 in 3 adults over 65 experience a fall each year. More than likely, your parent has experienced a fall at some point and not discussed the matter with your or their health care provider.

Unfortunately many seniors resist using assistive devices. They have negative connotations towards walkers or canes. To avoid the suggestions to use a cane or walker, they keep quiet about their falls and balance issues and begin to covertly limit their activity.

Talk to Their Doctor
If you are concerned about your parent or loved one being a fall risk, bring it up with their doctor. Doctors can administer balance testing. The definitive results of a doctor-administered test may provide the inarguable proof that your parent needs to use an assistive device.

Work on Building Better Balance
Another reason many seniors resist a walker or cane is because they view it as a slippery slope to becoming an invalid. But that is definitely not the case. There are many exercises that seniors can do to maintain and improve their balance. Helping them find the exercises and continue an exercise program might make them more receptive to the idea of an assistive device—by proactively working to stop that slippery slope, your parent might be willing to accept the help they need. Talk to you doctor about a referral to a physical therapist for help developing an exercise program or check into finding a Matter of Balance class in your area. (Matter of Balance classes are a national class that teaches seniors exercise to improve balance and provides tips on preventing falls. To find one in your area, ask your doctor or local hospital or Google “Matter of Balance” and your state’s name.)

For a more detailed discussion on preventing falls, see our quick tip video, Preventing Falls.