Senior keeps on touching and/or leaning on things for balance out of habit, not need. Any advice?


Senior keeps on touching furniture, cars, open doors etc out of habit as much as need. You frequently see him reach for an object after he has stood up or completed a step. Keeps on saying "he's trying" and/or leave him alone/shut up. Doctors, therapists and nurses have told him he shouldn't be using furniture etc for balance and that he was capable of strength training of which he completed a few sessions over a one year period. He also over uses his cane at times almost pushing himself with it when he walks. It is hard at times to get consistency out of him when it comes to physical therapy exercising or strength training. Same for nutrition including taking recommended vitamins. Long story short he recently "touched" one of those 2 foot long metal pans at a catered event in which he could've flipped a pan of hot food over. He says he just 'touched' it and gets hyper defensive when we point things like that out. He's touched alot of cars in parking lots lately saying he doesn't care if he trips an alarm. This while using a cane. How can I get this 'toucher' to stop using/touching things he simply does not have to? Is there a confidence problem or is he hiding an injury?

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Moms cane was more of a hindrance sometimes than an benefit. And when I had knee surgery I ended up tripping over it more than anything and got rid of it after one day. Her rollator was much more stable for her, and required both hands to navigate which he might find comforting and stabilizing.
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Reply to rocketjcat

I'm only in my 50's and I find myself doing this, it isn't that I am weak but that my joints are stiffening and every move involves effort and minor discomfort. I agree that is a habit, but I can't see why it bothers you so much.
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Reply to cwillie

Before I went to the chiropractor, I was "a wall walker".
To touch something stable (even though it would not hold one up) was helpful for balance.
I did not do that anymore, once I was better.
However, the pain has recently gotten worse, increased when getting up first thing.
I reach for the chair, the door frame, and after a few steps no longer need to do this.

I think it would be very hard, if not impossible, for another person to assess whether or not I need to do this or not or when the pain is worse.

The caregiver CAN accompany the senior, and touch his elbow or learn assistive techniques, I mean, if you are there anyway.....

I still smile when recalling how my hubs was (at my insistance) behind my elderly loved one who had started falling, but refused any help!  As LO fell backwards, hubs straightened him up from under his arms, uprighted him, and let go, just as LO was shaking off the assistance.  Hubs was a hero that day.  One fall averted.

P.S.  Hubs was instructed over and over what to do if someone was falling, and what not to do so he wouldn't get hurt himself.  At that time, we made a good team.
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Reply to Sendhelp

I suspect he realizes that his balance is a bit unstable and leans out to find hand holds along his path. I think this is a compensation mechanism, in an attempt to find stability along his routes, w/o the necessary of using a cane or walker.

I would give him credit for sensing that he needs support along the way, and I wouldn't push him as he's going to take his balance issues at his own pace. What I would do is ask him about the things he holds onto, if he needs something at another place along the way, i.e., work WITH him to help him through this stage until he's ready to try a higher level of support.

And, like others, I often do the same thing, especially as it seems that the rooms grow smaller as I age and I have to zig zag more often to get through the house.

The harder part is outdoor work, things like opening the garage door since I'm losing height and have to stand on my tip toes.
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Reply to GardenArtist

I've seen this before and I think he might not feel confident when he's walking. Maybe he's feeling wobbly or is afraid he'll fall.

The problem with this is that he's reaching out for things that aren't necessarily stable which increases his chances of falling.

Pushing himself with a cane is also not the correct way to use a cane. There's a method to using a cane such as what kind if cane does he need (there are numerous types), which side does he need to use it on, is the can appropriate to his height?

I think he could benefit from a few sessions with a physical/occupational therapist. Maybe his doctor can make a referral.
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Reply to Eyerishlass

biztap, I wonder if the Senior would benefit more from using a Rolling Walker. My Dad never used his cane after getting his walker, he said it make him feel safer when walking, plus he liked the seat and the basket, and he managed the hands brakes fairly easy. Well worth the cost.

I remember trying to use a cane when I had a back injury, I never got any real benefit out of it. If I had known about rolling walkers, I would have gotten one the next day.

As for touching things, DafnaS above may have a point, it could be OCD. But if this touching isn't a major problem disrupting his life, then ignore it. Not worth the battle.
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Reply to freqflyer

My dad started doing much like what you describe. He’s had physical therapy several times, but isn’t receptive to it and calls it worthless. He’s progressed from holding onto things to using a cane to being very attached to a rollator. His walking has diminished to a slow shuffle, most all of this due to an admitted fear of falling. So I’d say yes, there’s a confidence problem, it’s a fear of falling, and it’s both very real and understandable as well as common to seniors. Most seniors realize that one bad fall can change their whole picture and they do all in their power to avoid it
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Reply to Daughterof1930

It may be an OCD problem
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Reply to DafnaS

Does this senior have any memory problems? He may not be able to remember how to do things properly. My mom had lessons about how to use her walker properly, but she never did. She'd push it too far out from her body and put stress on her shoulders. I'd remind her, but it went in one ear and out the other. She just couldn't retain that information.

Also, has this senior actually fallen at any point? If so, holding on to things could be a protective measure. Sounds like he needs to be using a walker instead of a cane. They provide much more stability.
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Reply to blannie

I believe it is called 'couch surfing' - a lot of people do it but it can be dangerous when they hold onto something unstable - even a door can be problem as it could swing & send him flying - talk to dr. about this before he does fall

As I understand it, the big toes & the middle ear are the main balance features of the human body so have them looked at first 
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Reply to moecam

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