Furniture-Walking 101

Falls, Balance Issues, Elder Care in Minnesota, In-Home Help for SeniorsToday, an insurance case manager called me with a referral for homemaking and companion home care services.  As we were discussing the case and exchanging information that would be needed to begin services, I asked if the woman used a cane or a walker.  The response was, “No, but she’s a ‘furniture-walker.’”

I’m 100% sure you won’t find the term “furniture-walker” in Webster’s dictionary.  However, having worked in the senior industry for eighteen years, I knew exactly what the case manager meant because I have seen furniture-walkers with my own eyes.  A furniture-walker is one of those folks who walks around her home hanging onto the furniture (or the walls, or another person, etc.) to maintain balance and prevent a fall.  Many times, you can see the wear on the sofa or the smudges on the walls where the furniture-walker places her hands.

When I met this particular client, we addressed her need for a walker or cane because of her poor balance and previous fall.  Her response?  “Oh, I’m too young for a walker.”

I politely told her, “Well, having to have a walker has nothing to do with age but with the person’s inability to walk independently.”

“Oh”, she said, “I guess that’s true.”

If you are taking care of your elderly parents and see them furniture-walking, they may or may not need a cane or walker, but it is definitely time for a physical and/or occupational therapy assessment to determine what measures to take to ensure better and safer mobility.

Julie Ellingson, LSW



December 6, 2011

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Comments (2)


  1. Great information … I can remember when my dad started “furniture-walking” … like your client, he was “too young” for a walker (at 86). When he figured out that his walker could double as a “carry-all” and a chair, he got a little more positive about it when out of the house (but he still liked to resist the walker when in the house in favor of the furniture!)

  2. JulieEllingson says:

    Yes, there are positives to having to use a walker! Most elders, if they have to, prefer to use one outside of the house and to continue their “furniture walking” inside their homes. In reality, many falls happen in the home!

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