Introducing Walking Sticks to Your Elderly Loved Ones

Welcome to Irisada‘s blog. We focus on solutions and awareness for families living with differently-abled loved ones so they can live life to the fullest.

As we grow older, it becomes harder to maintain the balance and strength of our younger days, and walking sticks are one option that can help preserve the ability to walk independently. But as many of us know, not every elderly person is happy with this idea!

As if persuading our loved ones to consider using a walking stick wasn’t enough of a challenge, there’s still the matter of actually choosing a walking stick. This may sound simple, but with the growth of the eldercare sector, more and more walking sticks are appearing in the market.

Today, we’d like to share 3 pointers on each of these topics, thanks to the insights of two caregivers to elderly family members, as well as an interview with Tan Lee Tuan, the creator of the agegracefully range of walking sticks.

Photo Credit: Pixnio

Introducing The Idea

  • “Let’s take it slowly…”

There’s no need to rush straight to the idea of using a walking stick. For some people, carrying an umbrella that can double as a support is a good in-between step, without forcing them to use a walking stick before they are ready. Focus on the person, not the problem, and take your time.

  • “It’s just additional safety.”

One of our interviewees shared that while her father was initially resistant to the idea of using a walking stick, he came round to the idea after some discussion. She emphasised that the walking stick would give him additional stability if he should happen to stumble when he was alone. Often, our loved ones may be willing to change their minds, as long as we are patient and persistent.

  • “Let’s choose it together!”

After all, they’re the one who’s going to use the walking stick, not you! It’s only natural that our loved ones would want to retain a sense of control, and involving them in the process of choosing a walking stick is a good way to honour that. Ask them about their preferences, what they feel is most important, and let them try out different models!

How To Choose a Good Walking Stick

This leads us, of course, to our next section – what to look out for in a walking stick. Unlike days past when there was only one type of walking stick, today there is a much wider range of options available, from smart walking sticks with fall alarms and MP3 players, to walking sticks that double up as stools or umbrellas.

  • Grip and stability

It may not sound exciting, but the most basic function of a walking stick – to help with balance – requires good design that doesn’t compromise on grip or stability. For instance, some foldable walking sticks, while convenient, may be less sturdy. If portability is an issue, ensure that the foldable walking stick is reinforced at the interval section, where it bends.

It is also important to consider the environment. The ground surface will determine what type of grip is best suited. If the walking stick is mainly to be used on rough concrete and dirt paths, a common tip is sufficient, but if the walking stick is to be used indoors on smooth floors, a special anti-slip tip would be better.

  • Additional features

Nowadays, many walking sticks come with cool features! For a simple and useful addition, a walking stick that can convert into a stool would be great for users who require regular rest breaks when walking. There are also walking sticks integrated with umbrellas, which might be helpful for users who are new to using walking sticks and are concerned about their image.

Photo Credit: Tan Lee Tuan, agegracefullyshop

There are even smart walking sticks with music playing functions! The benefits of music therapy include improving cognitive function and mood – see this article for more details. Walking sticks with radio and MP3 functions not only allow users to play their favourite songs and listen to their favourite radio stations, they can also load audiobooks and news broadcasts to keep users entertained!

Photo Credit: Tan Lee Tuan, agegracefullyshop

  • Aesthetics and style

Walking sticks can be yet another channel of expressing unique styles! In recent years, there has been an increase in ‘designer’ walking sticks with fancy designs and colourful tubing, adding vibrancy to the gadget. If your loved one enjoys colourful styles, let them choose a design that suits them. For example, this elegant Vanda Miss Joaquim design by The Cane Collective might suit someone who likes flowery patterns. Alternatively, this fun polka dot design helps to bring out that individual spark!

Photo Credit: The Cane Collective

Aging With Grace

In the larger scheme of things, it’s important for us all to realise that there shouldn’t be any stigma attached to carrying a walking stick. After all, we all grow old someday, and if a walking stick helps us to keep the ability to walk around and go out, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

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Linette Chan

Linette is a university student interested in social issues and the vision of inclusivity. She writes for Irisada's blog and loves learning from the community.

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