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    Does Medicare Cover Walkers & Canes?

    does medicare cover walkers and canes

    You’ve been feeling a little weak or unsteady lately and have decided to do something about it before it becomes a problem. Or maybe your doctor, therapist or child took a look at you and said, “Guess what? We are getting you a walker or cane.” Before you guffaw and so “NO WAY!”, take a step back and give it some thought. If a walker or cane keeps you independent and safe, it is probably a good idea. If you’ve had surgery or an injury, you might not have a choice.

    Will your cane or walker be covered by Medicare or insurance? It depends. And it is complicated.

    What does Medicare cover and how to make the claim?

    Medicare Plan B and Medicare Advantage Plans cover renting and purchase of walking aids like canes and walkers. But there are certain conditions to satisfy to receive coverage for the device.

    First, you must produce a prescription for the walking aid from a doctor who participates in Medicare. The prescription should confirm that your mobility impairment prevents you from doing daily activities as you should. In other words, it should suggest that the equipment is medically necessary to help you move independently. It should also state that you will be able to  use the equipment safely, without any danger of accident or injury.

    Once you have this prescription, you can buy your walker or cane from a medical equipment company that participates in Medicare. Not all medical supplies stores do participate in Medicare so make sure you call first. The DME (Durable Medical Equipment) company will direct you to walkers and canes that are approved by Medicare, and you can choose from these options. You will have to provide your insurance details to the supplier and fill out some forms to complete the purchase.

    Coverage under Medicare Plan B is 80% of the Medicare-approved cost or rent of an approved device. However, the actual amount you have to pay will depend on the type of Medicare coverage you have. Under Medicare Plan B, you will have to make the 20% co-pay from your pocket. If you have a Medicare Advantage Health Plan or Medigap insurance, it might cover the co-payment amount as well.

    Many people choose to buy a cane or a walker without a prescription as they decide they don’t want the hassle or dealing with Medicare or don’t like the Medicare options that are available. There are so many choices available when looking outside of what is covered by Medicare. You can find something that fits your style and your needs, which might make it more likely to be used instead of sitting in the closet.

    Ease Living offers a curated selection of canes, walkers and accessories here. Products chosen by an occupational therapist for their utility and for their style.

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    Walking With a Cane

    walking with a cane

    You’ve found the perfect cane to keep you moving through your life. But how to use it correctly? Read on to 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. 

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    Quick Guide to Buying a Cane

    a quick guide to buying a cane

    Canes are the most common mobility aid. Whether prescribed by a physician or therapist or purchased independently for more security, canes are everywhere. Unfortunately that $15 cane from the drug store can cause more problems than it solves. From the wrong height to the wrong grip, it can cause further pain or make walking even harder. What are some things to consider when purchasing a cane?

    Height: The proper cane height is important for safety and utility. A therapist can measure for the proper size or if you would like to measure at home, it is an easy process. Wear your normal walking shoes and stand as straight as possible with your arms falling naturally at your sides. Measure to the crook or crease in your wrist. This is the proper height for your cane.

    This measurement will usually be within one inch of half the users height. So if someone is 5'7" (67 inches). Divide this number by one half (33.5 inches for our example). Add one half inch to this measurement (now we are up to 34 inches). This is the estimated size of the cane for this person.

    Many of the canes we sell at Ease Living are adjustable or can be cut to the proper height. 

    Handle: The shape of the cane's handle can have an effect on how comfortable it is to use. Many like the standard round or crook handle for its simplicity but it can be hard to use if joint pain is an issue as it provides little support. If this applies to you,  a derby or fritz handle may be better suited as these provide a more comfortable gripping surface and more evenly distribute weight over the cane. 

    Style: The design of the cane can mean the difference between the cane you carry with you at all times and the one you leave in the closet. If a cane makes you feel old or disabled using it will make you unhappy. Chose a cane that compliments your personal style. You may even want different canes for different occasions! Just like clothing, your cane reflects your personality.

    Check out our curated selection of canes at Ease Living. From classic to modern, we are adding more options all the time. Let us know if you have any questions or if there is a type of cane you would like that you don't see listed.

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    Any questions or comments? Here is how to reach me - CONTACT