By Dr. Patricia Farrell: For Complete Post, Click Here…
Walkers are a staple of life and independence until it is time to use them to get off sidewalks or go up and down stairs. Here they fail miserably.
Some 4.8 million Americans rely on them. Walkers provide the greatest support and are the aid of choice for 1.8 million citizens. Some 566,000 people use crutches, which fall in the middle of the support range.
The incidence of walkers and other assistive devices like canes has increased 50% in the last ten years since a survey was completed. With the aging of our population and the increasing incidence of orthopedic surgeries requiring aids, the numbers will only increase in the future.
But as the numbers increase, what’s happening with the design of these walkers? We don’t live in elevator buildings, nor do we all have ramped sidewalks or never have to ascend a flight of stairs or go down one.
What happens when someone dependent on a walker is in a situation like that? You know what it is; they need a helper. Independence is terminated either permanently or for a time.
A study indicated that 25% of the older American public now use assistive devices such as walkers. It is expected to double to 50% in the next decade or two.
What happens when you take a gut punch at someone’s self-esteem by removing their independence? The stress leads to immune system problems in persons already at risk. They are also at risk for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, which furthers their feelings of inability to care for themselves. Their main concern for using walkers is what? They fear they’ll fall without one and won’t be able to get up. If they do fall, that compounds the worry they experience.