Although they make up 29% of the U.S. population, caregivers are an often overlooked, but vital, part of someone’s health care team. They spend an average of 20 hours a week providing care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during a given year. The demanding role often means that the caregiver themself is often in need of assistance.
Physical therapists often work with caregivers and see the toll it can take, which can ultimately turn the caregiver into a patient in need of care as well. Visit the APTA website for more resources to help caregivers in their role, and tips on how to maintain health and happiness for themselves.
Did you know that caregivers for individuals with Alzheimer's, on average, require 46% more doctor's visits than their non-caregiver counterparts? Or that they require over 70% more prescription drugs?
Physical therapists, who are experts in restoring and improving motion, recommend that elderly adults who use canes and walkers as walking aids be properly assessed and fitted by a physical therapist to avoid fall-related injuries.
With emergency rooms experiencing 47,000 fall-related visits annually from senior citizens due to improper use and fit of walking aids*, assessment by a physical therapist can help reduce the number of these dangerous incidents by ensuring appropriateness and proper fit of the walking device.
Tips for Using Walkers and Canes:
- The walker or cane should be about the height of your wrists when your arms are at your sides.
- When using a walker, your arms should be slightly bent when holding on, but you shouldn't have to bend forward at the waist to reach it.
- Periodically check the rubber tips at the bottom of the cane or walker. Be sure to replace them if they are uneven or worn through.
Physical therapists also advise against borrowing walking aids from friends and family. This often leads to improper fit and misuse, and can result in further injury. Your physical therapist can also evaluate your walking aid and determine if it is in proper working condition.