One of the problems seniors face as they age deals with mobility. Mobility problems are common among older adults and can cause social, physical and psychological problems. This is because being mobile is essential to get through a day. People need mobility to see friends, get across a room, to be able to use the bathroom or go to the kitchen to get make a meal. Losing mobility can force people to become dependent upon other people which causes problems with how they see themselves as part of society.
Some of the reasons for the loss of mobility in seniors are listed below:
- Osteoarthritis: For people older than 65, this bone disease is the leading cause of mobility problems. Osteoarthritis can limit mobility severely, and more than half the seniors in this age group are affected by it. Treatments for this can be dealt with both physical and occupational therapy, as well as the taking of medication for pain.
- Falls and injuries: When a senior falls, it can reveal a mobility problem that has been undetected until then. Or a fall can then lead to mobility issues for a senior. So, seniors need to make sure that their homes are hazard proof. Removing or tacking down throw rugs as well as reducing clutter can cut the risks of falls. Also, when a senior falls and is recovering at home, 24-hour care is a necessity to make sure that there is a fast as well as safe recovery.
- Natural changes: As people age, there are changes in bones, muscles and joints which can affect gait and posture. This can lead to mobility issues in some seniors. For some seniors, osteoporosis can decrease bone mass also leading to problems. However, if a senior doesn’t have osteoporosis, by remaining active this will help slow the natural deterioration everyone has as they age. Low impact exercises can help to keep mobility issues at bay too.
- Cognitive conditions: Dementia or Alzheimer’s can cause mobility issues also. By treating the disease’s symptoms, it’s possible that some mobility may be restored while giving back the sense of independence and self-esteem to those affected.
Checking for mobility issues
Mobility issues aren’t always the first thing on the list of priorities that a doctor may check for. There are so many other health issues which may be of primary concern such as lung or heart problems. However, mobility is an important issue also because it can make the difference between living at home or having to move to a facility for a senior. Also, having mobility problems checked for is not difficult. All a doctor has to do is to have the senior stand up from the chair that they’re sitting in. Then the doctor should have the senior walk 10 feet, then walk back to the chair and sit back down. The goal is to see if the person walks faster than a yard per second. If the senior walks a yard per second, then the gait is normal. If the walk is slower than this, then there is a problem with the senior’s gait.
In addition, two questions should be asked of the senior. Do you have difficulty walking up a flight of 10 steps or walking one quarter of a mile? This is question number one. A quarter of a mile is about a medium mall’s upper level. Question number two is asking the senior whether they have modified how they walk up steps or walk one quarter of a mile. If so, the questions then is whether this is because of physical or health reasons?
If a senior has mobility problems, physical therapy to help improve balance as well as strength training may be suggested. Canes, wheelchairs, scooters and walkers can also offer a chance for better mobility. Losing mobility is a very real issue, but it can be treated or prevented.