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    The Ultimate Guide to Walking with A Cane

    walking with a cane

    Many people are often apprehensive about using a cane. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe they think it makes them look old? Or incompetent? Here is how I see it. If a cane allows you to keep doing the things you love - safely - why wouldn’t you want a cane? When the choices are leaving the cane at home and falling (talk about making a scene!) or staying home and being bored and lonely, I’ll take the cane. 

    First, find a cane (or canes) you love. If you think something is ugly you will be a lot less likely to actually use it. Next, make sure the cane is the right height and learn how to walk with it correctly. 

    Measuring for the Right Cane

    Having a cane that is the correct height is important for safety and for your posture. Many models exist that are adjustable, but you should still know the proper length to use.

    You can obtain the correct measurement by standing upright with your arms relaxed. There should be a natural bend at your elbows, just like there always is when you’re standing. Make sure you’re in regular walking shoes that you’d often be wearing while using the cane.

    Have a second person measure you, going from your wrist joint down to the floor. This number gives you the correct cane length. So if you measure 32” from your wrist joint to the floor, you need a cane that’s 32” tall.

    You can also estimate the proper cane length by dividing your height in two. So, if you are 62” tall (5’ 2”), you need a cane that’s approximately 31” high. For most people, the right sized cane is within 1” of half your height. But always opt to stand and measure wrist joint to floor when possible. 

    How to Walk With a Cane

    Knowing how to use a cane when walking is imperative. 

    1. Hold the cane in the hand on your “good side” so that when you lean on it, you are taking weight off the side that hurts the most.
    2. Move the cane and the bad leg together at the same time. So, when you take a step with your bad leg, move the cane forward in sync. Don’t stretch it out--move it the same distance as your average step. 

    When stepping onto a level surface, have your bad leg take the first step while you use the cane to steady yourself as needed. When going up stairs, remember the saying “up with the good” to put your good leg up the step first. When going down stairs, remember the saying “down with the bad” to put your bad leg down the step first. 

    Soon walking with a cane will come without thinking. 

    Find a cane you love at Ease Living or anywhere else. Here is a link to Ease's current selection. Take that perfect cane and keep moving. Tell me about your adventures. 

    :) Alison 

    Guests that Use a Cane or a Walker? 5 Ways to Prepare Your Home

    5 ways to prepare your home for guests that use a cane or walker

    You’ve bought the food and cleaned the house. What else can you do to make the stay easier for your guests that use a cane or a walker? 5 ideas from an occupational therapist.

    1. Deal with Area Rugs - Falls are a big concern and rugs are a big tripping hazard. Remove all throw and area rugs in areas where the person using the mobility aid will be walking. If that isn’t possible, secure all corners and edges with rug tape or anti slip mats.
    2. Remove Trip Hazards - Those cords that you are used to walking over could really cause problems for someone with limited mobility. Tuck away or tape down cords that could get in the way. Remove clutter like toys and shoes from high traffic areas. The clearer the path, the better.
    3. Make Things Brighter - You can likely easily navigate your home in the dark, but for guests, it isn’t so easy. Install higher watt light bulbs where you can and add extra lighting in shadowy areas.
    4. Make Your Bathroom Safer - Most falls that happen in the home occur in the bathroom.

    Shower/Tub: Remove any throw rugs and make sure to have an anti slip bath or shower mat for exiting the shower. A rubber mat or non stick bath treads are essential in the tub or shower. A shower chair is an inexpensive way to make it easier for someone to take a shower. They are available at medical supply stores and some mass market retailers.  

    Toilet: Do you have an older house with low toilets? These can be hard to get up from for someone with limited mobility. An elevated toilet seat or grab bars can increase safety and independence.

    5. Make It Easy to Get In the House -  A ramp will make it easier to get in and out of the house for someone that has trouble navigating stairs. Portable ramps that can easily be stored aware when not in use are available. It is also possible to rent a ramp in most areas. Search “ramp rental” to find a resource in your area.

    Have a great time hosting your guests and make it less stressful for everyone. To a Safe & Happy Gathering!

     

     

     

     

     

    How to Best Make Your Home Wheelchair Ready

    how to make your home wheelchair ready

     

    It can be difficult to determine the all of the aspects of making a home wheelchair accessible, especially when a loved one becomes disabled in a matter of weeks or months. There is also the cost to consider in having to remodel several different areas of a home in a short period of time, so cost-efficient measures are of the utmost importance as well as creating an accessible and safe wheelchair ready environment. These are some important things to consider:

    1. Yard Access

    All the walkways and other access surfaces should be checked to see if they are free of bumps or uneven areas. You may have to widen paths to fit a wheelchair comfortably so it will not consistently run over into a grassy or landscaped area. Make sure the surfaces are also smooth but have enough traction to avoid skidding.

    2. Entryways

    According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, all entryway doors need to have a threshold of at least one-half inch in height to accommodate a wheelchair, and it must be sloped or rounded for wheels. There is also the consideration of installing a ramp or some form of incline. This needs to be at least 36 inches wide to comfortably accommodate a wheelchair. There are usually some form or handrails and safety “curbs” on the ramp to avoid slipping.

    3. Floor Plan Layouts

    Consider that a floor plan that will have the most convenience for someone who is wheelchair bound would be an open floor plan with a main floor that has a bedroom, full bathroom, kitchen, and sitting room. Avoid any carpeting that will impede the use of wheels. This includes throw rugs which will inevitably get bound up or shift with the chair’s wheels. Wood or tile flooring is always a better alternative.

    4. Hallways

    These areas should be clear of wider tables, cabinets, and any other types of displays that could make access for a wheelchair difficult. The openings to each hallway also need to be at least 32 inches wide for a standard wheelchair to fit through comfortable whether the person is being pushed or rolling themselves through the entryway.

    5. Electrical Outlets

    If your goal is to make your wheelchair bound loved one as independent as possible, then you may want to consider having the electrical outlets customized and raised to 15 inches above the floor. This could include light switches and other electrical appliances that could be lowered to 48 inches from the floor as well.

    6. Bathrooms

    Since the use of a bathtub is almost impossible for someone in a wheelchair, customized the bathroom and removing the tub to create a shower large enough to accommodate rolling a wheelchair into it. They can also be customized with a seat so that anyone in a wheelchair that hop onto the seat and close the door themselves and use a hand-held shower head. Sinks need to also be between 30-48 inches and allow wheelchairs to be rolled up to them. Toilets can be purchased in taller models as well and grab bars should be put throughout the bathroom including next to the toilet and sink as well as several in the shower area.

    7. Kitchens

    For wheelchair users who intend on cooking for themselves, the sinks, ovens and counters in the kitchen area need to be lowered to the same height as the sink areas in the bathroom (30-48 inches). There are also appliances that are more wheelchair friendly like side-by-side refrigerators with the freezer at waist height as well as the main fridge area.

     

    This is a guest post by Carolyn Ridland, the founder of Caregiver Connection.

     

     

    Women's Heart Disease - Know the Signs During Heart Month

    Women's Heart Health
    February is Heart Month. Did you know that cardiac disease causes almost 1 in 4 deaths in the US and it is the leading cause of death for women. More women die of cardiovascular disease than of the next seven causes of death combined- even breast cancer. And while men are more likely to have cardiac disease, women are more likely to die as a result. 
    When thinking of heart attack symptoms, everyone thinks about crushing chest pain that radiates down the left arm. While women can experience this well known feeling, they often experience more ambiguous or "silent" symptoms. 
    • Chest Pain or Discomfort. Women can experience this common symptom of chest pain but may experience it differently than men. Instead of pain, it may feel like a squeezing or fullness, like a vise. The pain can be anywhere in the chest, not just on the left side.
    • Pain in your Arms, Back, Neck, or Jaw. More common in women than in men, this type of pain can be confusing for those who expect only left side chest pain in a heart situation. This pain can come on suddenly or be gradual or sudden, and it can wax and wane.
    • Stomach Pain or Nausea.  Stomach pain or pressure is often mistaken for heartburn or an ulcer when it is actually an indication of a heart attack. Be alert for any stomach pain issues that are out of the ordinary for you.
    • Excessive Fatigue. Some women who are having or have had a heart attack report feeling extremely tired even if they have had a sedentary day. Simple tasks like walking around the house will feel insurmountable.  
    • Shortness of Breath or Lightheadedness. If you are having trouble breathing without an obvious cause like exercise, it could be a heart attack, especially if combined with other symptoms. 
    • Sweating. Breaking out in a nervous, cold sweat is common among women who are having a heart attack. It feels differently that sweat from exercise, more like sweating in a stressful situation.  

    Not everyone will experience all of these symptoms but if you experience more than one, it is definitely a good idea to get checked out by a medical professional. The most important symptoms is your gut instinct, if you know something isn't right, you are likely correct. While women's heart issues are becoming more recognized, some doctors might need a little prompting to take your concerns seriously. Push for necessary tests, this is your heart we are talking about!

    To your health, 

    Alison 

    Walking With a Cane

    walking with a cane

    You’ve found the perfect cane to keep you moving through your life. Learn how to use a cane properly for the most benefit.

    Is a cane right for me?

    First, know that canes are best for minor injuries and balance issues. A cane is not meant to support a large amount of weight like crutches.

    Make sure your cane is the right height.

    While wearing regular shoes, stand upright with your arms relaxed at your sides. The top of the cane should be level with your wrist. When taking measurements to order a  cane, measure from the wrist joint down to the floor when standing as above. If you’re buying a gift, a good guideline is to buy a cane that is half a person’s height. So if they are 5’5” (65 inches), a 32-33 inch cane will be the right size. Some canes are ordered by height and others are adjustable.

    How to walk with a cane.  

    Hold the cane in the hand on your “good” side (opposite the injury). Take a step with your “bad” leg and bring the cane forward at the same time. The cane and opposite leg should touch the ground at the same time. Take average size steps, you shouldn’t be stepping ahead of the cane or having to catch up to it. If you are using the cane for general balance and not for an injury, hold the cane in your dominant hand.

    Navigating stairs.

    Climb up the stairs by following the rule “up with the good”. Hold to the rail, if available, and hold the cane in the other hand. Put your stronger leg up on the step. Bring up the cane and your weaker leg to meet the stronger leg. When going down the stairs, continue to hold the railing in one hand and the cane in the other. Now it is “down with the bad” The weaker leg and the cane step down first then the stronger leg steps down meet them.

    Tackling curbs.

    Very similar to stairs. When going up a curb, step up with your strong leg then bring up the cane and the weaker leg to meet them. When stepping off the curb, start with the weaker leg and the cane in the opposite hand then step down with the stronger leg.

    Most importantly, don’t rush! And pick a cane (or canes!) that you love so you will never forget to use it as you maneuver through life. See Ease's curated selection of canes here.