Germans given courses in using walking frames

Wed Sep 22, 2010 1:40pm EDT
 
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BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - German pensioners in the northwestern city of Duesseldorf are being given lessons in how to use their walking frames from local police.

Chief Inspector Joachim Tabath put together a course in using the metal-framed walking aides, also known as "Zimmer frames" after complaints that authorities provide lessons on using buses, bikes and trains, but people reliant on walking frames could not manage boarding public transport with them.

"Zimmer frame sales double every year," Tabath said. "Whereas OAPs (old age pensioners) used to stay at home, they're more mobile now but traffic has become heavier and more dangerous so you have to be very careful when you're using a Zimmer frame."

Tabath gives pensioners two hours of theoretical instruction, teaching them about road safety, crime prevention, adjusting the frames and how to board trams with them. He then accompanies them on an hour-long trip into town, advising them on how to negotiate steps and other obstacles.

"The courses have been going down really well," he said. "I had planned to do 10 or 15 sessions but there's so much demand that I've got 40 planned now."

(Writing by Michelle Martin, editing by Paul Casciato)