So Mom or Dad recently started using a walker - or maybe they've used one for a while now - but you aren’t sure if they're using it safely and correctly. Here are a few tips to make sure your loved one is safe when using their walker in order to prevent falls and injury.
Ensure It's Used Consistently
Make sure your loved is using their walker ALL. THE. TIME. Some folks will try to cut corners and take a few steps without it - or perhaps ditch it in the kitchen area or bathroom because they have counters to hold onto. This is a big no-no. Remind your Mom or Dad that they should be using their walker at all times.
Keep Pathways Clear
Walkers can easily get caught on throw rugs, power cords, anything that is on the floor. Make sure all obstacles are clear and out of the way. If your loved one has narrow doorways or hallways, you can place the walker wheels on the inside of the walker to make it narrower by a few inches in order to fit into those tight spaces.
Ensure Safe Placement of Hands
Make sure your Mom or Dad is being safe with where they place their hands. What we mean is, when your loved one is going from a sitting to standing position they should NOT lean or pull up on the walker. Instead, they should place their hands on the arms on the chair they are sitting in to push up; once they are in a fully standing position they should place their hands on the walker. This is important because the walker can easily tip over if they try to pull up on it.
Ensure Safe Body Position
Remind your loved one to keep the walker close to their body and in front of them at all times. Some folks have a tendency to let the walker “run away” too far out in front of them when walking; at least one foot should be inside the frame of the walker at all times with ambulation. When reaching for items in cabinets or cupboards, remind your Mom or Dad to keep the walker in front of them rather than reach to the side or twist their body.
Carry Items Safely
Your loved one should NOT carry anything in their hands while they are using a walker; both hands need to be on the handles of the walker! Instead, they can drape items such as clothing over the front of the walker, or carry them in a tote bag that hangs over the handle. Another option is to purchase a walker bag or walker tray to carry items around. Walker trays are great when it comes to meal time!
We hope you found these tips helpful in making sure Mom and Dad are using their walkers safely in order to prevent falls so they can continue to age in place!