How to Handle Difficult Behaviors Won’t use walker or cane

Almost always, the device makes the person feel old or disabled and is therefore ignored.

What to do:

  • Enlist peer pressure. It works at any age! The more your loved one sees others (especially those perceived as peers or younger) using assistive devices, the more normal they appear. Arrange chance “encounters” with a dapper, active, respected friend of roughly the same age who use a cane. Even watching movies set in locations when canes are commonplace (lots of foreign movies set in Europe, for example) can have a positive subliminal effect.
  • Talk up the benefits. Canes and walkers are seen as symbols of disability. Remind your loved one that they actually promote movement, which will increase the odds of better mobility over time. They also reduce the odds of a fall — which can cause serious injury and further limit mobility.
  • Look for noninstitutional models. Many men prefer a sturdy, stylish wooden cane to an aluminum model, for example. Walkers also come in a variety of types; search online forwalker or look at medical equipment companies.
  • Try compromising. Maybe your loved one will use a walker in certain circumstances (shopping) but prefers to lean on a companion’s arm in others (church).
  • Supply the device wordlessly. Rather than nagging (“Get your cane!”), just provide it.
  • Consider having a third party, such as a physical therapist or doctor, lay out the costs of ignoring a cane or walker.
  • See a physical therapist’s tips for encouraging someone who refuses to use their cane or walker

Raleigh Geriatric Care Management:

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