Enjoying the Outdoors with Walkers and Canes

The summer months mean spending more time traveling and spending more time outdoors. For people with mobility issues, having a properly fitted walker or cane with the right accessories can make all the difference.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of the outdoors this summer:

First, make sure that you are physically up to it.

If necessary, make sure that your doctor or physician has cleared you to exert yourself for the length of time that you plan on being out as well as the conditions that you will be exposed to. While you are out and about, be sure to watch for any signs of discomfort or dehydration. If you are going to be on your feet for extended periods of time, consider wearing compression socks to maintain proper circulation if your doctor advises it, and make sure they are measured and fitted properly, not too tight, not too loose.

Make sure that your walker is properly fitted.

The fit of a walker is generally determined by weight and height. You want the top of the handle of the walker to be right about where the hip ends, and you want to be able to stand up and not be leaning forward or tilted back. Walker sizes are primarily determined by the weight of the user. Anything less than 250 lbs. is generally considered to be regular, and then there are walkers for people over 300 and 500 lbs. The weight and height are the most important things to ensure patient safety. If they’re going to be in the house and they have stability, then they might be fine with a simple frame design, but if they don’t have that stability or they have difficulty stopping, you might consider using a combination of wheels and skis to get the right amount of support.

Perform routine maintenance.

It is also important to make sure that your equipment is properly maintained. Walkers and canes are in direct contact with the ground, and the wheels, caps and skis can be wearing down gradually without us even knowing it. Before heading out, examine your walker or cane. You should probably consider replacing your tires, skis or caps every 3-6 months depending on the surfaces you travel on. If you spend a lot of time on black top, you’re going to go through them a lot quicker than on hardwood or carpet. If the contact points are worn or cracked, consider replacing them. If you see metal poking through, it’s time to replace them. There are plenty of affordable tips and skis out there, so there is no excuse for tennis balls. Everybody has seen somebody using tennis balls to help them transition, but they wear down quickly and skis are a safer option.

Keep everything you need within reach.

There is a wide variety of accessories that can be attached to your walker that can help to make your travels more enjoyable. Mobility bags and trays can be attached to either the front, side or back of your walker to ensure that water bottles, cell phones, medications or anything else you’ll be traveling with are within easy reach. Additionally, there are cup holders that can be connected to the frame of the walker to help make sure that you are properly hydrated when you are out and about.

Follow all of the safety instructions.

Most importantly, always take care to follow the “Safety Warning Instructions” that are included with your walker and its accessories. It was designed to support your weight – and the weight of your bags and trays – but only if it is distributed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.