More Seniors Staying Active With Canes, Walkers

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About one-quarter of adults aged 65 years and older used mobility devices—such as canes, walkers, and wheelchairs—in 2011, and about a third of these reported using multiple devices, according to the findings of a Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study.

The use of such devices was not linked with an increased risk of falling, but people who used canes were more likely to report limiting their activities because they worried about falling, the study said.

The findings indicate that the percentage of older adults using mobility devices has increased in recent years, and the use of multiple devices is common.

"Staying active is a key component to staying healthy and maintaining mobility and function. It's important for people to use the device that best matches their needs in order to stay as mobile as possible, but safely," said Dr. Nancy Gell, lead author of the study.

Gell's team analysed cross-sectional and longitudinal data from the 2011-12 National Health and Aging Trends Study. Participants were asked about the use of mobility devices such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs and scooters in the last month, 1-year fall history and worry about falling. Twenty-four percent of adults aged 65 and older reported mobility device use in 2011, and 9.3% reported using multiple devices within the last month. Mobility device use increased with advancing age and was associated with nonwhite race and ethnicity, female sex, lower education level, greater multimorbidity, and obesity.

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