Every Body is different. Some are short, some are tall, and some need assistance walking. What kind of assistance you need depends on a lot of factors, such as how your balance is, what kind of joint problems or illness you have (such as arthritis) that affect your ability to walk, and how many legs you can stand on.
Health in Aging has an excellent chart to help you get measured for walking assistance, and also how to figure out what works best for you. Here’s a short, handy guide to let you know whether you need a walker or a cane.
Firstly, a cane is for people who:
1) Have only one “bad” knee or hip, or only have pain in one knee or one side of their hip (this could be for a lot of reasons, one of the most common being arthritis). They can stand on their “good leg” with a little support.
2) Have mild problems keeping balance and just need a “third leg” to keep their balance.
3) Have injured one foot or leg and need the cane to help keep balance
A walker is for people:
-That have two weak hips and knees, but can still walk with assistance
-That have pain in both their hips and knees, but can still walk
-That have moderate to severe problems keeping balance and you need more support than a cane to keep from falling
4) Remember, that if you need a walker, you may need to take the elevator since most walkers cannot fit or won’t help you keep your balance on stairs. If you have a multi-level home, you may either need to accommodate your space with multiple walkers and grab bars along the stairs, or consider moving to a one-floor home.
In order to assess what you need, you can talk to your physician and they can help you decide what you need. They can also help measure you for the right cane or walker. Remember, your walking assistance will depend on your situation, not just your health, but your height. Not all canes and walkers can accommodate your height, and while some are adjustable, we recommend that you get one that’s fitted to your size.
Also remember that there is no shame in needing a new tool to help you walk. As we’ve stated, Every Body is different and a cane or walker can help you keep your independence and prevent a serious injury from a fall.