When to use a walking aide

Hi everyone!

I'm currently not using any help to walk (except for my husbands arm and pushing my son's stroller) Some days I feel pretty good and others I feel like I am unable to walk without pushing the stroller or shopping cart, especially in open areas such as malls. My dilemma is that I am not sure if I should get some sort of walker or not. I know I would feel more comfortable doing certain activities and such but I am nervous that if I take that step I will become dependant on it and feel as if "theres no going back" to walking without assistance. I was wondering if anyone would share their experiences with me on this subject I'm feeling a little stuck.

Thank you all :):)

I think I am there too. A physical therapist said it was in my best interest. Just can't imagine how it would help. Maybe some advice would help me too. :)

This is a problem I'm having also. I know I probably should use a walker but I can't bring myself to do it. Then when I fall I think if you had your walker. But I find I have good days and bad days so I think well this is a good day and I'll be alright then I'll get startled or in a crowd and down I go. The trick for me which was hard to learn was to slow down, don't ever rush, stand still in crowds and be conscious all the time that you could mis-step. I tried a cane but it didn't help because I think it put my body off balance.

Dear Lindz
My daughter, Lindsay has the same issues. She is 20. She falls frequently. If someone bumps into her she stumbles. She holds onto my arm at shopping malls, theme parks and whenever stairs are involved. She does not like the idea of any appliance - mostly out of embarrassment. She previously required a wheelchair for the three years after contracting encephalitis from a mosquito bite. I don’t know whether she will accept a walker. I don’t think a cane will help her stop a fall when she loses balance.
I am interested to see how others respond to your post because this issue hits home with us. Thank you for your post and I want to wish you the very best.

I’m in the same boat!

My last fall was in April of 2013 inside, I was only using the walker for outside. The doctor suggested I use the walker all the time. I have not fallen since. I use shopping carts when available and the wheelchair at the mall for long distance walking. I do not want to hurt myself so I choose safety first.

I first start using a stick/cane to let others know not to bump into me. However as my muscles got weaker, my balance deteriorated and I also had spasms in thigh muscles. Neurophysio advised two sticks to maintain posture. It is important to keep spine straight or there will be more problems! I eventually bought a rollator from eBay and now have two... one for indoors and one for outdoors.

This is not only very convenient for assisting walking but I can carry things too. I can look up and smile at people without worrying about falling over. I have so much confidence, I really wish I had bought one sooner.

I can walk quite a long way with it and when I get weary, I can sit on it.

Indoors it is my trolley for carrying laundry, dishes, etc .. so versatile.

Patsy x

Pick up a WALKING STICK, not a cane. Use it as necessary. You are probably not ready for a walker yet. I walk mostly unassisted, and use a stick or forarm crutch for shopping, restaurants, etc. It is not a good idea to depend on someone's arm, as it is not stable, and if the situation presents itself where you are going to fall, chances are very good that the other person will go down with you trying to prevent you from falling ;)

What if you used a walking hiking stick only when you need it and try to push yourself and not allow yourself to depend on using it all the time? What would that look like?

It might let you have a bit more independence and self satisfaction to know yes you could use it but can you do without this just once (that is as long as you make sure you are safe). If not ok next time maybe. Just because you use it once in a while doesn't mean you will get dependent on it and use it all the time. Because you are worried about getting that way tells me that you won't let yourself anyway. Try not to think of it being all or nothing thinking. :0)

My husband uses a nice carved wood walking stick and he gets complimented on it a lot. The physical therapist told him his body will become more confident if he uses the stick regularly rather than intermittantly, and combined with the exercises we do daily it should help his ataxia symptoms improve.

Thank you everyone for all of your comments, I'm definitely going to explore different things and let you all know what I find helps. It's really nice to talk to people that are going through the same things :):)

I use a rollator full time--except for using carts when shopping. I wouldn't be without it. I think I am more dependent on it than 2 years ago,but figure I have gotten that much worse anyway. If you decide a cane is better for you, get some instruction or gove some thought to how to use it--I took one of my worst falls with a cane and later daughter told me I had it in wrong hand for how I was turning. Neuro recommended walker and PCP prescribed it.

I have wobbled in your shoes for several years. I did not want to give into a cane until the wind blew me off my feet while at recess with my third graders. I knew that I needed more help on uneven ground and of course on windy days when there wasn't an arm or a basket to hold. As walking and balance began to get worse, my need for a cane in public became crystal clear when I was by myself. I could still negotiate my house without the cane, and that gave me the confidence that I was still using my own body to move around. There are so many unknowns in public and falling in front of strangers is the ultimate fright to me. I began getting more unstable with just the cane. I, too, thought buying a walker was like surrendering to my illness and quitting. Last week I bought a Hugo walker with 8" wheels. I live in the country with uneven ground everywhere. I highly recommend this walker. Not only do I have more FREEDOM to move in public much easier, but I am now able to go outside in the yard over rocks, thick grass, and pot holes with so much confidence. I no longer look at my feet when I walk with the walker, do not have to touch every surface or person when I walk out in public, and can look ahead and see the ground that is coming and actually see people's faces as I walk. I gave up caring how I looked in public when the cane entered my life. The cane actually has opened doors for me, literally and figuratively, and with a cane, it is really clear to all that my wobble has nothing to do with being drunk. If you get a cane and still find yourself hanging onto or touching something or someone with the other hand like I was, then a walker will give you the balance your body is crying out for. Just touching something with both hands is just enough to make you feel stable and confident. I wish you the best of luck because making the decision to get aids is tough. I still spend most of my time at home going without any aids, but when my leg strength goes away, the cane makes me not have to work so hard to get around. Every outing will probably call for a different aid or a combination of cane and walker. I got what I needed to improve my quality of life and because I was tired of falling down and then having to recover from all the bruises.

I m struggling with that too. If I am tired I use it, rollator. I keep telling my self better use it. If u fall break something u will wish you did. I use it at the library big open area. Use shopping carts at stores. My son’s shoulder if I get stranded! I’m trying to make myself do it. PT says to use it!! I’m thinking about it.

This is a tough decision and I also viewed it as giving up. I did get two “Hurry Canes” that are sold on TV. They were fantastic and their customer service was the very best! Still, the day came when I needed a walker. Two days with it and I could not believe how helpful it was. I have problems walking very long and now I can just sit down. I have found the public is much more tolerant than they were when I had my husband’s arm in a death grip or used canes. I don’t want sympathy, just the same courtesy I showed others before ataxia found me. It also gives opportunities for little kids to learn from me. If I see one staring I ask if they would like a ride on my Go Bot. They have rarely had someone with a physical challenge talk to them and we both usually end up with the giggles. You will give up some things, but will gain some great things in the process.

hi all

im a prime example im like 37 now i have a walker to get around .. i use to have a cane but the bakance thing got to me and i kept falling.. i know there is no going back(until they find a solution). but trust me when i say its better than being on your ass in a shopping mall or trying to look straight as people loook at you and think is he drunk or whats wrong with him..people know there is something wrong with you if you use a walker and they get outta your way and most times give you priority in lines.

Dear Lindz555, I was diagnosed with ataxia eleven years ago and started using a cane about four years ago, after falling and injuring my back. I use it when I leave my home, but am able to walk inside my house (carefully) without it (I just bounce off walls and furniture). It's been a godsend to have my cane in unfamiliar places, as I've never fallen while using it! In fact, I have three canes now, one with a lavender and blue pattern, one with colorful songbirds on it and a plain black one...,high fashion...,ha! They each have quad attachments and are self-standing. People I don't even know are very kind when I go out, holding doors open, etc. Shortly after I started using a cane, I had gone into a restaurant for a take-out. I had the bag in my left hand and my cane in the right. I was trying to open my car door and a gentleman, talking on his cell-phone, asked if he could open my car door for me (talk about multitasking...,ha!). I said yes, and really appreciated his assistance!!! I also have two trekking poles that I use for pleasure walking, Recently I bought an Access Active Rollator on-line which I love! Now I can walk outside, safely, alone. It's more sporty than the traditional rollator and really easy to use. Also, I could use it inside my home if need-be. I resisted using assistive devices for a long time due to my "I want to do it myself" mentality. But falling and hurting myself is not my idea of a good time, therefore, I now have a "better safe than sorry" mentality...,ha! My best to you, whatever you decide to do..., ;o)

I am in same situation … hard decision to make but I figure if it a aids you when needed it’s a good thing… think I will always try walking first and then choose help if I need it… With noticeable restrictions and fatigue I think I would benefit from being able to get from a to b quicker and end up with more getting done

Jonas Cepkauskas, I wanted to ask (without hijacking this thread too much!) - what type of walking stick do you recommend?

The hardest step for me was to admit I needed a walker. Before I got the walker, I fell frequently. Since I've gotten the walker, I have not fallen. Using the walker is better than hurting yourself. I agree, safety first!