One major concern that arises as individuals begin to age is mobility. According to findings from The Mobility Resource, one in five elderly individuals in the US and Canada struggles with mobility issues. Luckily, this is not the be-all and end-all, as you can choose a senior mobility scooter that is easy to maneuver or help the seniors in your life do strengthening exercises.
Given that limited mobility afflicts upwards of 18 million people, whether this is due to natural aging, disease, or accidents, you can find comfort in knowing that there are viable solutions to ensure that the seniors that you know can still maintain a sense of independence despite their physical handicap.
One’s quality of life can be impaired by their mobility issues, but with the right mechanisms, exercises, and lifestyle changes, you can change this for the better.
Here are some tips to help seniors move:
Remove obstacles and safety hazards at home
Obstructions at home can cause existing mobility issues to worsen. Conduct regular evaluations of an elderly individual’s home, and secure rugs, tape wires, and clear up pathways. Make sure that there is ample room for them to move around, especially in key areas such as the bedroom and bathroom, as well as the path between the two.
You can also light up these pathways with motion sensor lights in case seniors need assistance navigating at night.
Find assisted mobility aids that match individual needs
Mobility aids can literally provide seniors with the physical assistance they need to go about their days. These can provide seniors with a level of independence, autonomy, and self-sufficiency. There are numerous kinds of mobility aids in the market today, and you can match these with an individual’s unique needs to find the right one for them.
You may choose among the following options:
People who are unable to walk or cannot put weight on or strain their lower extremities often use wheelchairs. Wheelchairs are most suitable for individuals who have severe disabilities. These mobility aids are also beneficial for traveling far distances.
Seniors can either maneuver the wheelchair on their own, or have it pushed by a caregiver.
Canes help an individual balance out their load from the legs to the upper body. One in every ten adults over age sixty-five in the United States uses a cane.
Canes are a great option for those who need help balancing. However, one caveat of canes is that while they reduce the weight off of one’s lower body, it increases the pressure on one’s hands and wrists.
Those who are visually impaired may use white canes in order to detect objects in front of them and alert others of their condition. Some individuals may use forearm canes for better distribution from the wrist to the arm. Quad canes can help those concerned with stability as they have a wider base with four feet attached.
Senior Mobility Scooters
Senior mobility scooters promote greater accessibility and freedom among elderly individuals. They can travel long distances and even continue to utilize public transport. Choosing a scooter for seniors is an investment worth making, due to its flexibility.
Seniors can easily get on and off mobility scooters as they have swivel seats. In some cases, they are portable and can be dismantled when need be, like when you are going on a trip. Mobility scooters can accommodate up to 500 pounds as they are made of heavy duty materials for maximum support.
Knowing this, you can trust that a mobility scooter can be a constant companion that adjusts to a senior’s changing needs. Whether the senior in your life is recovering from an injury or wants to avoid one altogether, a mobility scooter can serve multiple purposes.
Walkers are another common mobility aid in the US. These have metal frames that have four legs for greater balance and stability. Although traditional walkers have to be lifted slightly with every step, some other walkers have wheels to help users glide smoothly instead.
Rollator walkers have seats in case the senior using it needs to take a short break. Those who have knee issues can use knee walkers which operate similarly to rollators as seniors can rest their knee on a cushion while moving forward with their more dominant leg.
Similar to canes, one typically uses crutches to transfer weight from their legs to their upper body. Individuals who are suffering from temporary injuries may utilize crutches to help keep them upright.
Those who have long-term disabilities may use forearm crutches, and place their arm through a cuff while holding a grip. Platform crutches are another option if the individual in question has difficulty gripping onto something due to conditions such as cerebral palsy or arthritis.
Make additional mobility modifications at home
Aside from mobility aids, you must also assess areas in a senior’s home that could potentially be a site for accidents to occur. Access ramps can be installed on uneven surface areas to accommodate a shower chair or scooters.
If a senior’s bedroom is on the second floor of the house, a stair lift will allow them to go up and down, while still sitting on or using their mobility aid. Additional handrails or grab bars can be fashioned on key areas of the house where seniors may need an extra dose of stability and support just like those ironworks in orange county.
Encourage safe and guided exercise
Remaining sedentary throughout most of the day could actually exacerbate mobility issues. Many seniors may fear overexerting themselves through exercise when they have limited mobility. However, with the proper guidance and precautions, you can help seniors in your life stay active and healthy.
You can help ease them into exercise again by starting slow and starting small. Physical therapists, trainers, and physicians can recommend the proper exercise regimen for seniors depending on their needs and health issues.
Exercise will not only improve seniors’ physical health, but their mental health as well. They may be able to sleep better and night and regain the confidence they may have lost through the years.
Before you get started, help seniors warm up by stretching. This can aid in flexibility and prevent injuries from occurring. You can then try out the following exercises:
Yoga and Tai Chi
In a study conducted by The Journal of Geriatrics, those who suffer from osteoarthritis may see a significant reduction in pain if they do chair yoga. Chair yoga is an adaptation of the traditional practice of yoga, suited for seniors as it offers additional support with this piece of furniture.
It can reduce both the risk and fear of falling, minimize inflammation, lower stress levels, and slow down the development of heart disease. Performing seated yoga poses with the help of a caregiver or yoga teacher can easily be incorporated into a senior’s daily routine.
You may also want to encourage Tai Chi, as this incorporates breathing and stretching exercises doable for seniors. Tai Chi is great for improving flexibility, balance, and stability, and can relieve pain and other chronic health conditions.
Water aerobics is a form of aquatic exercise that is safe for the elderly population. These low impact exercises do not require much pressure on one’s muscles, joints, or bones. To get started, seniors can simply try walking back and forth and observe the water’s natural resistance which can promote muscle strength.
You may also want to check if there are nearby classes offered for water aerobics catered to seniors in order to elicit a sense of camaraderie and community while exercising.
Light weights of one to two pounds can be used by seniors to keep their muscles and bones strong. You can adjust the weight incrementally, if needed. It is recommended that seniors exercise their major muscle groups twice a week minimum, for roughly thirty minutes at a time.
You can help seniors alternate between muscle groups and offer the necessary support and guidance.
Stick to a balanced diet
It is vital that individuals who have limited mobility stick to a balanced diet to get a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. Meals and snacks that are high in protein can help improve mobility.
Nutrition is key to seniors with mobility problems as it can promote muscle and bone strengthening, and help speed up the recovery process in case of accidents. For older adults, it is advised that they eat smaller meals throughout the day to adjust to their slower metabolism. Vitamin D and calcium found in whole foods should be common ingredients in seniors’ diets.
This can facilitate proper digestion and maintain balanced blood sugar levels to keep seniors functioning throughout the day.
As physical mobility issues can lead to emotional or mental ones, it is imperative that you help get the seniors in your life moving today. Slowly but surely, you and your beloved seniors can find a mobility plan that works best.
Have you found success in helping seniors get moving? Leave a comment!