All About Estates

Is a cane an ‘enabler’ or a ‘disabler’? What is your point of view?

I work with many seniors who prefer not to use the assistive devices that are prescribed/recommended for their safety and well being. In particular, the use of a cane and the use of a walker seem to viewed by many as an unnecessary attachment and an ‘aging’ device. I feel it is important to recognize these mobility aids as an ‘enabler’ rather than a ‘disabler’. For someone who is unable to walk, a wheelchair provides the freedom for them to leave their home and reintegrate into the community.

A cane can make the difference between someone staying upright on their feet or losing their balance and falling. We know falls are a primary reason seniors are admitted into hospitals and they are costly- all around. While recently travelling with my mother, who reluctantly used her ‘walking stick’ as her mobility aid, it made the difference of her being able to participate and enjoy the very full days of sightseeing that was planned, rather than staying back. We saw many travellers of all ages, who used walking sticks. While some may be used for style or for nefarious purposes, (caribou at the Quebec’s Winter Carnival or cane gun in Ian Flemming’s Casino Royale) most are used as a mobility device.

I am working with an older woman who was in a car accident and sustained leg fractures( tibula and fibula). She doe not want to use a rollator walker. Why? Because in her own words, she doesn’t want to look old and feeble. Her choices are staying housebound, going out on her own and risking a fall (which given that she also experiences dizzy spells is a realistic outcome) or going out with her rollator walker. Even the arm of a companion is not a replacement for a well fitted and working mobility device. Many rollators have seats that provide for a rest when needed and a basket, so that necessary items can be transported rather than carried. Did you know that the Ministry of Health’s Assistive Devices Program may cover up to 75% of the cost?

This month is Falls Prevention Awareness month, and should prevention fail, a resultant fall may cause a fracture.  Assistive devices really are enablers and can help in maintaining one’s independence……


About Audrey Miller
About: Audrey Miller, Managing Director of Elder Caring Inc. has over 30 years social work and rehabilitation experience working with older individuals and their families. She advises the financial, insurance, legal and business communities regarding elder care issues. Audrey is a recognized expert in her field. Email:


  1. Grace Vidal-Ribas

    November 4, 2019 - 2:27 pm

    Hi Audrey- I am an Activator for SheEO ( a group of radically generous women that is helping fund women entrepreneurs ventures… If your clients are not interested in a walker outside of their homes, they may be interested in the Alinker- created by one of the women we funded. She can reclaim her freedom and independence
    She created it for her mother. Have a look at the site

    • Suzanne

      November 5, 2019 - 6:26 pm

      I had a look at your Alinker site – wow what great product. Has the cool and hip factor too.

  2. David Barker

    November 4, 2019 - 3:06 pm

    I agree that they can be an enabler. Certainly it’s difficult for seniors to battle the psychological impact of an aging body, especially if they’ve always enjoyed good health. From experience with my parents, I would add that they need to be properly sized. My mother’s cane was too short and caused her hip alignment to be off, which led to more problems. The mobile walker was better.

  3. Catharine Williams

    November 4, 2019 - 5:08 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. My mother refused to use a walker, right up to the end, because she felt they were for “old people”. She had many, many falls at her nursing home, but she still could not be forced to use one. Very frustrating but you can’t argue with a stubborn Scot!

  4. David Windeyer

    November 5, 2019 - 2:17 am

    I have 3 canes and several umbrellas in our front hall stand. Until now for decoration except the unbrellas.
    However, recently I found the canes handy for various reaching purposes and even tried walking with one. The walking felt nice and supportive with the cane even though I am perfectly ok without one. And, it looks cool too……

    • Audrey Miller

      November 5, 2019 - 2:14 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I look forward to seeing scooters that can be accessorized!

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