Maintaining Mobility


The cane is the most widely used assistive device, and in the United States alone, more than 4 million people use them. Canes support up to 25% of a person’s weight and may prevent falls. The two types of canes available are single-point canes and quad canes. A single-point cane provides minimal support during ambulation and is appropriate for people who have slightly decreased balance, poor endurance, poor coordination, or muscular weakness.
A quad cane is a cane with four points in contact with the ground. It is available with either a wide or small base.  The quad cane is more stable than the single-point cane. People with significant muscle weakness in both the arm and leg on one side of the body, which often happens following a stroke or brain injury, may benefit from the use of a quad cane.
According to Mann, the different materials used in the shaft of the cane can change its weight and feel. Traditional wood is relatively heavy while aluminum is much lighter.


Almost 2 million people in the United States rely on walkers for their mobility needs. Since their introduction more than 200 years ago, walkers have changed dramatically. Originally designed as temporary rehab equipment, walkers have been modified for use in the home and features have been added like wheels, seats, and brakes, along with convenient accessories such as detachable baskets, trays, and walker bags.


Wheelchairs are typically used by seniors with impaired mobility and reduced strength.  Wheelchairs often become a necessity due to chronic conditions like arthritis, stroke, or a fractured hip. Today, older Americans use more wheelchairs than any other age group.

Mobility Scooters:

Three-wheeled mobility systems, also known as scooters, are becoming increasingly popular among the elderly. Scooters are useful for individuals who can walk short distances but need help for long distances. Most scooters have rear wheel drive and front wheel steering.  According to Mann, even though scooters have been around for a long time, they have undergone some of the biggest improvements. "The power of the batteries and the speed at which they recharge are the most important changes we have seen with this technology," Mann says. Specifically, power seats, flip-back arms, adjustable bases, gear drive systems that provide 40 miles to a charge, and attractive colors are enhancements found in today’s scooters.

Many elderly patients like scooters since they provide a very comfortable ride because they absorb shock. Most can achieve speeds of up to four miles per hour.  Scooters are steered with a handlebar, steering wheel, joystick, or push-button controls. Some scooters disassemble easily for transportation in the trunk of a vehicle. The elderly particularly need to pay attention to how heavy a scooters is if they, or someone else, will have to lift it in and out of a car. The best gauge is to determine if you can lift the largest, heaviest part when the chair is disassembled.