Mobility is the key to staying independent, and this is more important as people age. For the elderly, the loss of mobility can have profound physical, emotional, social, and psychological consequences.
As people age, they become less physically flexible and this is where the issues of mobility come in. When the muscles and joints are not maintained properly, even the most basic movements can cause pain or even injury. Simple tasks such as sitting up in bed, standing up from a chair or bending over to pick something can be challenging for the seniors. Struggles with mobility are caused by several factors that range from after-surgery pains or chronic conditions such as arthritis.
Fortunately, there are many techniques and tools that will enable seniors to retain their mobility.
What are the reasons for mobility loss?
1. Sedentary lifestyle
According to a study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the American Association for Retired People (AARP), a sedentary lifestyle involves 5+ hours of sitting each day. With rates of activity (less than three hours of activity a week), sedentary seniors have a far greater risk of mobility loss by three times compared to active seniors.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is a degenerative disease that affects the knee, hips, thumb joints and spine. According to the Agency for Healthcare and Quality, more than half of Americans 65 years older and above exhibit symptoms of osteoarthritis.
3. Cognitive disorders
They include dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which can also affect mobility. The brain requires cognitive power to instruct the muscles on how to walk. As the brain function weakens, mobility declines.
Here is a couple of quick methods that medical researchers recommend for evaluating your elderly loved one’s mobility:
1, Doing the “get up and go” test, which assesses your senior parent or patient standing up, walking and sitting down. Ask your patient or parent to stand up from sitting in a chair, walk 10 feet, turn around, then walk back to the chair, and finally, sit down. Observe how long the test takes and see if your senior remains steady.
2. Asking them a couple of questions:
“Do you have difficulty climbing 10 stairs?”
“Do you struggle to walk a quarter of a mile? (about the upper level of an indoor mall)”
If the answer to either or both questions is “yes,” then it’s time to explore ways to improve their mobility.
The following exercises that seek to improve your senior parent’s or patient’s mobility depend on his or her condition.
1. A simple exercise which involves a sit-and-stand activity. Using a sturdy chair, and the appropriate support, patients practice sitting down and standing up several times a day will help build their balance and muscle strength. Such regular exercises will enable seniors to do essential functions such as getting out of bed or sitting on a toilet.
2. Encouraging seniors who are sedentary to set a timer each hour that will prompt them to stand and walk.
3. Physical and occupational therapies can help improve mobility, balance, and day-to-day tasks and activities. Mobility aids provide support, balance, and stability.
Tools and aids to encourage mobility
Kerr Medical has a line of products that will help in maintaining mobility in seniors:
These aids make it easier and safer for the seniors to get in and out of the car. These auto accessories include the Handy Bar, the Car Caddie, and the Padded Swivel Seat Cushion.
These aids help support patients in a sitting-up position and make getting in and out of bed easier and more comfortable.
3. Quad cane
The quad cane provides support and balance to seniors while they are walking or when they are about to rise from a chair or sofa and can be great for senior activities.
4. Couch cane
The couch cane is installed at the side of the couch or sofa. It facilitates seniors in getting up from the couch or sofa.
The Assist-a-Tray is another mobility device that comes with a versatile tray with a handle to use for standing.
You can order these products and others in Kerr Medical’s catalog online or by calling 888.254.3444. Our team is available to answer your questions. Kerr Medical is here to improve the quality of life of senior patients and their caregivers.