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The Best Walking Canes for Seniors and Elderly

A cane is usually the most basic walking aid for most seniors and elderly. When most people think of a cane, they tend to think of a wooden hook shaped cane like their grandfather had. But there are many more options to consider when searching for the best walking canes for seniors and elderly. There are other shapes, bases, and features of canes that are important for improving mobility. Keep on reading to learn more about these options.

How are Walking Canes Used by Seniors to Improve Mobility?

Before learning about the best walking canes for seniors, it is important to really understand how a cane is used. Often, I see people who are using canes incorrectly. Other times, I see people using canes who should probably be using a wheeled walker or even a rollator with a seat. The reason is often they refuse to use a wheelchair even if it’s the best option.

Canes are for Balance – Not Weight Bearing

The proper use for a cane is just to help maintain balance. A cane should never be used for weight bearing or for full support of the body. People who hold onto furniture when waking at home usually benefit from using a cane. Also, people who have a foot that drags from a stroke or injury could benefit from cane.

Adjusting a Walking Cane for the Proper Height

Most canes are adjustable in height to fit seniors of varied heights. Some use a simple metal push button and others use a clamp. A cane that is too high causes shoulder pain. Smaller people should not use a cane that is too tall. But, a cane that is too low causes the senior to bend over too far which hurts the back.

When a cane is adjusted properly, there is a slight bend in the elbow with the user standing nearly straight up. For most seniors, setting the cane so that the handle is just below the hip joint is about right.

The Correct Way to Walk with a Cane

Yes, it does matter what hand the cane is held in. The cane is held in the hand ON THE OPPOSITE side of the injured or weak leg. And here is why.

In the typical human walking pattern, the left arm swings out as the right foot steps and vice-versa. This is how we humans maintain our balance. So, holding a walking cane in the hand that is on the opposite side of the injury, allows seniors and the elderly better control of their balance.

After getting the cane in the right, er, correct hand, the user should just walk normally. If the senior finds themselves putting weight on the cane or cannot keep a normal walking gait, a different mobility aid is probably needed. Also, If both legs are injured or weak, a walker or rollator is usually more appropriate. Sometimes wheelchairs or even power wheelchairs are the safest choice.

woman walking with cane at beach
CC BY 2.0 Walk with a Cane by Franck Michel at flickr.com

Types of Walking Canes for Seniors and Elders

Walking canes come in many types, styles, and forms. Probably many more than you realize. It is also important to know the differences between walking canes and walking sticks. Some types of walking canes have specific functions while others are also designed to look good or more stylish. Here is a quick rundown of some of the types of walking canes:

Standard Cane

standard walking cane

A standard walking cane is the basic cane most seniors are familiar with. These are simply a support rod made of wood or steel usually with a curved or straight handle at the top. The cheapest canes are wooden ones but they are usually not adjustable in height.

There are many different handle styles for standard canes. Most, though, are classified as either a curved handle or a straight handle. Many doctors and therapists prefer a straight handled cane because it matches better with the hand angle while walking. A straight handle is more ergonomic than a curved handle.

Advantages: Least expensive, lots of choices in both design and style

Disadvantages: only for mild balance problems, weight distributed on a single point


Offset Handle Cane

offset handle cane

The offset handle is a variation of the standard cane. I’ve also heard them called crookneck canes. With an offset walking cane, the cane bends like a swan neck before the handle. This distributes the senior’s weight over the cane tip for better balance. Like the standard cane above, there are many styles, colors, and designs to choose from.

Advantages: inexpensive, distributes weight directly over cane tip, lots of options

Disadvantages: only for mild balance problems


Quad Base Cane

quad base cane

A quad base cane is a walking cane with a wider base. On this wider base are 4 cane tips that make contact with the ground. Because the base is wide and has more points of contact with the ground, it is more stable than the other types of walking canes. So, the quad cane is designed for seniors and elderly who need a little more balance support than standard canes offer. Find the best quad canes here.

Advantages: Weight distributed on multiple points, able to stand on their own

Disadvantage: Not a lot of style choice, a little heavier than other canes


Folding Cane

cane that folds up

The folding cane has recently improved in popularity. This type of walking cane is collapsible and will fit into a purse or bag. It is easy to store and take with seniors so it is always available when needed.

Folding canes work like tent poles. The cane itself is made up of several smaller segments that fit together. An elastic cord runs up through the middle of the cane which keeps the pieces together. To use the folding cane, simply push the smaller pieces back together. To store it, the pieces easily pull apart and fold up.

Special canes like these are not usually provided under Medicare benefits.

Advantages: folds for easy storage and carrying, lightweight

Disadvantages: Requires good hand control to be able to fold and put together


Specialty Canes

Recently, there have been several improvements in the design and engineering of canes. Some designs have improved the support and function of a  walking cane. Others add bells, whistles, and gizmos like lights and alarms. Some canes have very unique styling and are marketed specifically for men or for women.

So, What are the Best Walking Canes for Seniors and Elderly

Choosing the best walking cane for a senior is really based on 2 factors:

  1. How much balance support do they need?
  2. What are their style or fashion needs?

Question 1 should be easy for you to answer now. Question 2 is a bit more subjective. When making the recommendations below, I looked for the best walking canes that were a combination of function, quality, and also had several options for stylish seniors.

Features

  • BEAUTIFUL, LIGHTWEIGHT & ADJUSTABLE walking cane has an offset handle design that provides optimal support and comfort for the arm and wrist. Adjusts from 28" - 39" for approximate user height: 4'11" - 6"4". Weighs only 1 pound with a 300 lb weight capacity
  • 31 STYLES to choose from for women and men
  • COMFORTABLE FOAM HAND GRIP comes with a convenient carrying strap
  • ANTI-RATTLE LOCK sets the adjustment and prevents cane rattle
  • DURABLE & CHIP RESISTANT cane is made of high quality aluminum, beautiful chip and fade resistant finish and long-lasting slip resistant rubber tip

For a more basic type of cane, I really like the Nova Offset Handle Designer Cane series. These are the best walking canes for seniors who need a little balance help and also like to show a little style. The Nova walking canes come in 31 fun colors and designs. There is 11″ in height adjustment so this cane will fit most any senior. It is also lightweight and easy to use. The soft foam handle is easy and comfortable to grip. Not to bad for a cane that costs under $20.00!

Important features:

  • 31 fun colors and designs
  • Adjusts in height from 28″ to 39″ to fit people from 4’11” to 6’5″
  • Wrist strap to reduce chance of dropping cane
  • Chip resistant finishes
  • Soft, comfortable grip
  • Weighs only 1 lb
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lb

Features

  • SUPERIOR STABILITY AND TRACTION ON ANY SURFACE: Safely navigate over any surface, indoors and out. The quad cane base provides greater traction on smooth surfaces such as hardwood, laminate or tile floors as well as greater stability on uneven surfaces such as grass, sand, gravel or plush carpets. The versatile cane is made with a durable anodized aluminum frame that is adjustable from 28" to a maximum of 37" and supports up to 250 pounds.
  • NONSLIP, FOUR-PRONGED BASE: Easily switching from the left to right side, the four prong base locks into place providing additional support without interfering with a normal stride. Each prong is capped with a rubber, non skid, non-marking tip for added stability and convenience. The square base allows the cane to stand upright while remaining compact enough to easily fit on stairs or in narrow passageways.
  • COMFORTABLE ERGONOMIC GRIP: Fitted with an ergonomically contoured hand grip, the cane handle creates a secure, yet comfortable grip perfect for daily use. The handle also includes a wrist strap for added convenience.
  • CORROSION-RESISTANT LIGHTWEIGHT FRAME: Constructed with a durable anodized aluminum, the quad cane is lightweight and corrosion-resistant. Dual security features include an easy to grip locking knob and brass locking pin ensure that the cane stays at the set height without slipping.
  • VIVE GUARANTEE: Unconditional Lifetime guarantee so you can purchase now with confidence.

As I discussed above, the main advantage of a quad cane is that they are the best walking canes for seniors who need a little extra balance. But, they also tend to be heavier than other canes. The Vive adjustable quad cane, though, is lightweight weighing just under 2 lbs. Another problem with quad canes is that they are handed meaning it matters if the user is left or right handed. But Vive has taken care of that problem too. Their base is reversible so it fits right or left-handed seniors.

Important features:

  • Available in 5 color choices
  • Base reverses for right and left-handed users
  • Height adjusts from 28″ to 37″ for users from 5’5″ to 6’6″
  • Wide base allows the cane to stand on its own
  • Weighs under 2 lbs
  • 300 lb weight capacity

Features

  • Cutting-edge, patented technology allows the HurryCane, the #1 selling cane in America, to feel like a seamless extension of the body
  • Innovative SteadiGrip stabilizing technology increases traction and improves balance during both indoor and outdoor use
  • Customize the fit of the HurryCane by adjusting the handle height setting between 30.5" and 37.5"
  • The HurryCane stands on its own by your side when you need it, and folds up compactly in seconds when you're sitting
  • Weight capacity: 350 lbs. Base Size: 3.5 inch, Folded Size: 13.7 inch.Cane material:Aluminum

I’ll bet you have seen the infomercials for the HurryCane. These commercials were a staple of late night TV for a while. The HurryCane is now owned by Drive Medical and is available on a wider scale. It now claims to the most popular cane in America.

This walking cane has a tripod-shaped base with a flexible joint where it meets the end of the cane. The joint allows the cane to pivot on the base which keeps it in contact with the ground longer while walking. This leads to better balance support during the full stride. Because of this, the HurryCane is the best walking cane for seniors who use a cane outdoors as well.

Here is a quick video showing how the HurryCane works:

In addition to the stabilizing benefits, the HurryCane has other convenience features too. First, it stands on its own so it is always ready to go. It has a hand strap to prevent it from being dropped while used. Finally, it folds up for easy travel and storage.

Important features:

  • 4 colors to choose from: black, blue, red, and purple
  • Handle height adjusts between 30.5″ and 37.5″
  • Folds up for easy storage and travel
  • Hand strap to reduce chances of dropping
  • 350 lb weight capacity

Features

  • ★ FOLDABLE WALKING CANE WITH LIGHT & TRAVEL BAG (Batteries Included) Versatile easily folded for convenient storage and extended to locking position. Height adjustments from 34 inch to 39 inches. Easily folds into four sections and can be conveniently stored for travel and convenience. The cane folds into four sections, meaning you can store it in your bag when you're not using it or when you travel. Adjustable 6 white bright LED lights so you can choose where is should shine
  • ★ EASY & PRACTICAL FOR EVERYDAY USE (Travel Bag Included) Provides maximum safety and endurance while remaining lightweight. Ergonomically-designed grip handle together provide the user with maximum safety and comfort while exhibiting high quality and sustainability. Soft foam grip handle with pivoting head light with 6 built-in white LED lights to light up the way. Folding cane Stands up on its own
  • ★ IMPORTANT: MEASURE LENGTH 34" to 39" SLIP RESISTANT Anti-marking rubber tip prevents falls and keeps you safe. The pivoting quadruple treaded base provides better traction and supports your full weight while giving you the flexibility to walk, run and turn easily. The sturdy wristband can prevent slip-and-fall accidents when used, and provide convenience when folded and stored. With a 250 pound weight capacity, this sturdy cane will support you throughout your daily life
  • ★ GREAT FOR USE ON THE GO On the go solutions. Folds easily for storage or travel and has a convenient wrist strap. Unisex item for the elderly men or women and fits inside of luggage, backpacks, trunks etc. Comfortable foam grip handle for those who suffer from arthritis. Care should be taken when using the walking stick on wet floors, tiles and other slippery surfaces. Extra wide Quad base for self-balancing and extra sturdiness 4 safety grips
  • ★ PORTABLE AND ADJUSTABLE CANE The 6 LED lamps (Batteries Included) directly point forward 20 meters and adjust to different illumination angles. Folding design makes it the most portable cane on the market. LIFETIME WARRANTY: We stand behind this product with excellent customer service and a lifetime guarantee Don't miss out! Click the "Add to Cart" button now and get ready to make life easier

I am a bit of a tech nerd so I really like the features of this walking cane. There is a very real advantage to having a light on a cane. As I mentioned in my article about fall prevention, not having a light on at night is a factor of many falls. This cane has a bright, LED light built into the handle that is always ready. This is the best walking cane for seniors who are out after dark or who get up a lot during the night.

The cane also has a wider base for better support and balance and that also allows it to stand on its own. It even folds up for easy travel and storage. The only negative I see is that the height adjustment is only 5″ so this cane is best used for seniors who are between 5’3″ and 6’0″.

Important features:

  • Bright, adjustable LED light built into handle
  • Folds for easy storage and travel
  • Height adjusts from 34’’ to 39’
  • Includes hand strap to reduce the chance of dropping it.
  • Weighs 1 lb
  • 250 lbs weight capacity

Features

  • ADJUSTABLE FOLDING WALKING CANE AND WALKING STICK foldable cane and walking stick easily adjusts from 32 to 37 inches in 1-inch increments to fit most people, eliminating uncomfortable bending or awkward slouching while walking.
  • BOLD, CONTEMPORARY AND COLORFUL PATTERNS coupled with high quality materials set this beautiful walking cane apart. Each cane pattern is designed with attention to detail featuring color coordinated wood handles, wrist straps, and anti-slip rubber feet creating the perfect giftable item.
  • COLLAPSIBLE WALKING STICK FOLDS COMPACTLY down to 11.5" allowing it to be easily stored, carried or stowed in the included water-resistant carrying bag. Weighing only 13 ounces, this lightweight yet strong cane can support up to 250 pounds and features a slip-resistant rubber tip, giving you extra traction to help maintain proper balance.
  • REAL WOOD HANDLE has been painted, polished and ergonomically contoured to help reduce hand cramping or muscle fatigue providing you with a comfortable grip for long periods of time, even for those with arthritis. A complementary wrist strap near the handle gently fits around your wrist to help prevent accidentally dropping with fine walking stick.
  • WARRANTY AND GUARANTEE: 1 Year Limited Warranty thru Manufacturer.

Switch Sticks folding walking canes are a fun product and are the best walking canes for seniors who are young at heart. These folding canes come in 19 creative colors and patterns so that users can express themselves a little. If they have to use a cane, might as well be one that they like.

These folding canes also come with a wood handle that matches the cane. A hand strap is included to reduce the chance of the cane getting dropped. A latex band is also part of the package to keep it folded securely while being carried or stored.

Important features:

  • 19 unique colors and patterns with matching wooden handle
  • Folds into a small, secure package
  • Hand strap to prevent drops
  • Latex band holds it together while folded
  • Weighs only 13.5 oz
  • 264 lb weight capacity

Have you had any experiences with a walking cane you would like to share? How about a recommendation of your own! Please feel free to share or ask questions in the comments below and I’ll get back to you quickly!

Care to Share?

Other Guides to Mobility Devices for Seniors

About Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

Assistive Technology Professional, Custom Wheelchair Specialist, Medical Equipment Guru, Dad and Grandfather | I am a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not working as a custom wheelchair specialist at a regional home medical equipment company, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's.

4 thoughts on “The Best Walking Canes for Seniors and Elderly”

  1. I am in therapy for weak left leg. Told to get cane. I have poor balance but so many are ok’d so still confused. Hurry Cane best?

    • Hi Wanda – Sorry if I confused you. Canes also have a style element to them so I was trying to give people lots of choices. That way they could find one they liked the looks of too. The Hurry Cane is a fine choice because it offers the larger tip that pivots. Depending on how much assistance you need, this will give you more support. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    • Hey Toby – I do not know of a cane with wheels. Probably because that is a dangerous combination. If the cane had wheels it would be unstable with no way to support the user. Tell me a little more about what you would use that for.

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