The first sign of mobility problems for seniors is usually a loss of balance or stability while walking. This often shows up as seniors holding onto furniture or walls while walking through the house. Walking aids like canes are really helpful for this group of elderly people by providing the support and balance they need. But, not all canes are the same. So, what is the best walking cane for stability and balance? Read on for different options and my recommendations.
There are many more types of walking canes than most people realize. If you want to learn more details about each type, check out this post.
Standard canes are the most common type of cane you will see elderly people around town using. They are basically a shaft with a handle and they only touch the ground at one point. This is the tip you see on walking sticks too.
Quad canes, however, have a wider base at the bottom. Attached to this base are 4 prongs with rubber feet that make contact with the ground.
Standard Cane Tip
4 Prongs of a Quad Cane
Fig. 1: Standard Cane Tip vs. Quad Cane's 4 Tips
This difference in base and tips is why quad canes with the 4 prongs are the best canes for stability and balance. The wider base and multiple points of contact means the cane is in contact with the ground longer throughout the stride.
As with any piece of medical equipment, it is important to know the advantages and disadvantages so that you can make a good decision.
The wider base at the bottom offers several other advantages in addition to helping with balance problems. First, the wider base allows the cane to stand on its own. So, when the senior sits, they can stand the cane up next to the chair. That way, it is ready to go when they are. Also, the wider bases reduces the chances of it being dropped while walking. The bases are available in small and large, wide and narrow base options depending on the level of supports the senior needs. Large bases tend to be used more with men because they need more support typically. Women who use canes tend to prefer the smaller base version
Small Base Quad Cane
Large Base Quad Cane
Fig. 2: Small Base Quad Cane vs. Large Base Quad Cane
The few drawbacks to a quad cane aren't a big deal but should still be understood. First, style choices are going to be limited for people who want highly fashionable canes. They also are a bit heavier than a standard cane because of the wider base and 4 prongs on the cane.
CAUTION: It is important to know that some quad canes are handed. This means they are used in either the right hand or the left hand. Why would it matter? Because the base is narrower on the side nearest to the user. The purpose here is to reduce the chance of the cane hitting the user's feet and causing them to trip or even fall.
My recommended quad canes work with both right and left handed seniors. But, I wanted you to know that in case you shop elsewhere.
Based on my experience working with seniors and elderly at a medical equipment store, here are my recommended quad canes.
A quad canes with 4 prongs on the bottom is usually recommended as the best walking cane for stability. The larger base offers more support by maintaining contact with the ground better. They are truly helpful to seniors with minor balance issues. They are very inexpensive and people either buy them outright or they are also covered by Medicare.
However, if the senior seems unsteady only using one hand for balance, a walker, a rollator with seat or even a wheelchair should be considered. The goal here is for improved safety for seniors and elderly. Reducing the chance of a fall is an important part of this.
Do you have any experience picking out a quad cane for you or a loved one? Which one do you recommend? Feel free to share in the comments below. Questions are always welcome too!
I work daily with seniors and the elderly in my position as a wheelchair specialist at a home medical company. I see the struggle they have maintaining their independence and living their daily lives. Most are completely unaware of the options and products out there that can improve their independence, mobility, and safety in their home. I created this site to help seniors, elders, and their caregivers make smart buying decisions about the many independent living aids on the market.
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