Coping with Mobility Issues: Tips for Seniors & Caregivers

Elderly Woman Walking Park (1)

It’s common for people to have mobility problems as they get older. Limited mobility may be due to muscle weakness and health or physical reasons. From 2000 to 2020, 25,500 to 50,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and above had mobility issues.

Although this is a typical aspect of aging, it can be upsetting to seniors and hurt their quality of life. Even seemingly unimportant mobility problems, such as despair and social isolation, can have serious social and psychological repercussions. Furthermore, mobility issues might be a sign of underlying health issues, so it’s critical to be watchful and address any concerns right away.

Let us learn more about how older adults can effectively cope with mobility issues.

What are the risk factors for falls? What can you do to help your elderly loved one improve balance, remain independent and commit to regular physical performance to strengthen muscles and slow down the process of functional decline?

Warning Signs of Mobility Issues

There are several symptoms to watch out for in an older adult to identify potential mobility concerns. They include getting a bit unsteady, difficulties with balance, standing up from a seated position, and climbing stairs. Other common indicators may consist of a decline in an elderly person’s hygiene or a messier home, which can indicate they’re having difficulty completing everyday tasks.

To ensure the quality of life of your elderly loved one, you must monitor their health and catch the early symptoms of mobility problems before they get worse. Here’s a look at the common signs signifying mobility issues that may gravely affect mobility and physical function of older adults:

  • Having difficulty climbing or going down the stairs
  • Limited mobility and inability to walk independently
  • Slower walking speed or gait speed
  • Having difficulty rising from chairs, beds, or toilet seats
  • Experiencing joint problems when seated for long periods
  • Balance problems

Likewise, mobility problems are considered fall hazards that pose a severe risk to many seniors. If you won’t implement fall prevention methods or help an older person improve physical function, falls can result in injuries and aggravate existing mobility issues.

A fall in an older person is one of the most alarming symptoms. Since they have brittle and older bones, falls may likely lead to injuries, such as broken bones.

While a fall could be an accident, it can also indicate they are having trouble moving. Injuries from falls can result in subsequent mobility issues and medical conditions. Therefore, it’s crucial to take precautions against falls and address any mobility issues as soon as they occur.

Top Reasons for Mobility Problems in Older Adults

Many seniors worry about dealing with a mobility disability due to medical conditions, sedentary behaviour, physical reasons, and exposure to fall hazards. Maintaining mobility is important for older adults whether they are alone or have hired home nursing services Singapore.

It will help a loved one or an elderly caregiver know the common reasons for mobility issues affecting a person’s ability to engage in physical activity and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Here’s a look at these reasons causing mobility issues for many seniors:

1. Falls

The major cause of most seniors’ mobility concerns is falling because they can result in serious injuries like fractures and head trauma. Falls can also cause older persons to lose their independence because they may start to limit their activities out of fear of falling.

2. Heart ailments

Older adults suffering from cardiovascular disease or any medical condition involving the heart lack oxygen supply. This can result in weakness and exhaustion, making it difficult to even think about doing any physical activity.

By controlling their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, seniors can lower their risk of developing mobility issues rooted in cardiac health.

Some older adults keep their independence by using assistive devices or asking for assistance through an escort service Singapore.

However, older adults with chronic diseases might require more help and extensive support in coping with their daily living activities.

3. Arthritis

Arthritis is a common disease that affects the joints and causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. Older adults with sedentary behaviour may find it challenging to move around, particularly early in the day, after extended periods of inactivity.

4. Osteoporosis

It is a disease that makes bones brittle and weak and feels like older bones break, raising the risk of fractures. Seniors may find it challenging to move around because they feel pain or discomfort in the afflicted areas.

5. Decreased hearing and vision

Old age causes most people to lose their hearing and eyesight gradually. This can make it challenging for seniors to navigate their environment, which makes it more difficult to identify fall hazards.

6. Obesity

Obesity is becoming a bigger issue as people acquire older age. Walking around when you’re carrying extra weight can be challenging since it strains your joints. Additionally, it may raise the risk of other illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, which may worsen mobility issues.

7. Balance and coordination concerns

Seniors must commit to regular exercise, walking programs, or balance exercises to improve safety. Old age makes it more difficult for a person to stand or walk steadily, which raises the possibility of a potential fall.

Although older adults frequently experience mobility issues, these problems are not necessarily a consequence of ageing. Older persons can lower their chance of having mobility issues by doing everything to experience healthy aging.

Ways to Cope with Mobility Problems

Mobility problems worsen as you age, affecting your freedom of movement and ability to keep your independence. However, there are ways for elderly people to manage mobility issues and maintain their quality of life, which include the following:

Modifying your home

Simple modifications like adding handrails or grab bars to various areas of the house can make it easier to navigate stairs and walkways. Installing ramps or lifts can also help older adults move around the home safely and easily.

It’s also recommended to have the floors fastened with runners and carpets. To prevent slips and falls, place anti-slip mats where the floor is often wet, like in the bathroom or near the sink. Best of all, ensure that the place is free from clutter that can cause accidents to an older person.

Facing the problem

The issue must be dealt with head-on if there are any mobility issues. This entails speaking with a medical expert to determine any underlying health issues causing the problem. Medical practitioners can identify the causes and suggest therapies or treatments to help manage the condition.

Your doctor may recommend that you undergo physical therapy, balance training, or have bed rest for a specific duration. They may also request that you regularly go to local hospitals if they find it suitable to get you treated.

Enhancing quality of life

Mobility problems can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. They affect your ability to engage in social activities, hobbies, and daily tasks.

However, improving your quality of life is attainable despite your old age, as there are many things you can do. For example, learning new skills or taking up a new hobby can help older adults stay engaged and active, even if they are unable to move around as freely as they once could.

Using assistive devices

Choose the assistive devices best suited for your condition. For example, canes, walking aids, and wheelchairs can help older adults move around safely and efficiently. Assistive devices such as shower chairs, grab bars, and raised toilet seats can make using the toilet and bathroom easier.

Coping with mobility problems as an older adult requires a multifaceted approach. Addressing the problem head-on, consulting with healthcare professionals, and seeking appropriate treatments and therapies are essential. With the right strategies and support, older adults can lead fulfilling and active lives despite mobility problems.

When Do You Seek Professional Assistance?

Identifying the appropriate time to seek expert assistance is the first step in assisting an elderly person with mobility issues. Consult with a healthcare provider to decide the best course of action if the mobility issue is brought on by an underlying medical condition, such as Parkinson’s disease or arthritis. Physical therapists can also be a useful resource for older people who want to restore mobility and learn coping mechanisms for mobility issues.

When Do Your Loved Ones Need Professional Care?

In some circumstances, professional care may be required to assist an aged person in adjusting to mobility issues. Personal care assistants or home health aides can help with daily activities like dressing, bathing, and meal preparation.

Additionally, they can offer transportation to social events and professional engagements. Nursing home care may be required to ensure the older person is safe and getting the care they need in more serious situations.

The emotional and social effects of mobility issues on older persons must also be taken into account. They may feel lonely or unhappy if they cannot partake in social activities or hobbies they once loved. Family members and caregivers can assist their loved ones by offering emotional support, participating in activities with them, and encouraging them to seek new interests or hobbies.

Help Seniors Remain Mobile

Despite the challenges, you must encourage your elderly loved ones to maintain mobility to decrease their mortality risk, keep them away from physical disability, and help them maintain a healthy weight.

Encourage physical activity

Even a moderate exercise program, like walking one-quarter or a quarter of a mile, can help improve strength, flexibility, and balance.

You can also suggest they undergo physical therapy or occupational therapy or perform strength training activities if they can. Physical activity will keep them away from any mobility disability.

Use SPLAT in case of emergency

SPLAT, meaning Stop, Pause, Look, Assess, and Take Action, aims to help seniors stay calm in any situation. It makes them more aware of what’s happening and encourages them to think about what to do before taking action, which can help prevent further injury.

How a wheelchair can help

Wheelchairs can provide stability and support, allowing older adults to move around more safely and efficiently. There are many different types of wheelchairs available, including manual and electric models, and it is important to choose the right type of wheelchair for the individual’s needs.

Beneficial Mobility Exercises for the Elderly

Keeping physically fit becomes more crucial as you get older, not only for your physical fitness but your overall well-being. Regular exercise can enhance the overall quality of life and lower the risk of falls and other health problems.

You can try the following exercises to keep up with regular physical activity without straining yourself:

1. Sidestep

Step to the side with one foot while standing up straight and holding on to a chair to sustain your balance. Repeat on the opposite side, bringing the second foot to meet it.

2. High step

From a standing position, elevate your knee as high as you can, pause, and repeat on the opposite side. Strength and flexibility in the lower body can be enhanced with this workout.

3. Shoulder shrug

Raise your shoulders toward your ears, hold for a moment, and lower them back down.

4. Stand up, sit down

Take a seat, stand up, and then return to your chair.

5. Walk

Everyone of any age can benefit from walking as a form of exercise. You can begin by walking one-quarter of a distance. Gradually, you can walk a quarter of a mile or even farther.

6. Leg, heel, and toe rise

As you raise, place your weight on the balls of your feet before lowering yourself back down. After that, stand up on your heels and then come back down. Finally, stand up on your toes and then come back down.

7. Cervical range of movements

Move your head slowly up and down, side to side, and in a circle to test your cervical range of motion. This exercise can ease stiffness and increase neck mobility.

8. Half-circle sway

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, sway your hips lightly from side to side as if drawing a half-circle.

9. Eyes-closed balancing exercises

Try to stay balanced while focusing your vision on a target about 20 feet away from you for as long as you can. Do it while sitting, then stand while keeping your focus. Close your eyes, sit, and then stand again without losing balance.

Improve Older Adults’ Quality of Life

Everybody is bound to get older, so while you still can, ensure that you commit to a healthy lifestyle and perform regular exercises. If you are caring for elderly people or have a loved one facing mobility issues, help them the best way you can so they can continue living comfortably despite the problems.

Older adults may experience mobility problems but don’t always have to be crippling. They can live healthier lives and continue engaging in their favourite activities by being proactive and asking for help when needed. Visit here if you need help looking after an ageing family member or want to inquire about the services best suited for them.

Joshua is the founder of RC Caregivers. Having been the primary caregiver of his father, he has been undertaking ways to provide affordable and quality care, not just to his father, but to all elderly in Singapore. He has founded multiple care companies, such as Red Crowns Senior Living, and has been featured in Straits Times, Zaobao and Money 93FM. He has also been lauded by DBS, with the company being the recipient of the DBS foundation grant.
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