Changes that occur with ageing can lead to a range of specific mobility problems or simply more of a general struggle moving around. That person may be unsteadiness while walking, have difficulty getting in and out of a chair, or falls.
There are a range of common conditions amongst older people that can contribute to mobility problems; muscle weakness, joint problems, pain, illness and neurological difficulties.
For some they may also have co-existing conditions which could combine to seriously affect their confidence in moving around. This, of course, is a significant worry for their loved ones, particularly when older relatives are otherwise capable and keen to continue managing independently in their own home.
The number one mobility problem experienced by older people is falls so it is important to ensure that everything possible is done to avoid the risk. Falls themselves can result in bruises, sprains, broken bones and not surprisingly a fear of falling, which can also have a genuine impact on someone’s quality of life.
Due to reducing bone density that occurs as part of the ageing process, or with certain conditions, older bones break more easily and heal more slowly than younger bones. Then, once there is damage to a crucial joint such as a knee or hip it is often the case that the older person then needs to use a cane, walker or wheelchair permanently. For this reason, it is important that family members and their loved ones are doing everything possible in terms of prevention.
Encourage safe physical activity
One of the most helpful things you can do for a person with mobility problems, or a fear of falling is to encourage physical activity. Even a small amount of gentle activity on a regular basis can help keep bones and muscles strong, which in turn can help to ensure the person is more steady on their feet.
This will help to make sure your loved one can feel more confident getting around and, should they bump or fall the increased strength can help prevent fractures. A gentle walk every day or alternate days, a once a week class such as those run by local leisure centres or libraries can help with this if you or your loved one can manage a short journey. Such classes can really help with socialising and a sense of connection too, which can do wonders for mental health in older adults too.
It is also useful to know how to get up from a fall when one happens, so if your loved one is nervous of falling because it has happened to them in the past, knowing this can empower them and anyone who lives with or cares from them too.
Reduce the risk of hazards
The very best thing you can do for your loved one is to reduce the risk of hazards which could cause a fall as much as possible. Is there flooring which is uneven, or something causing a trip hazard? Is lighting poor around an entranceway which may lead to misjudging the space or height of a step, has everything been done around the bathroom to prevent slips?
One of the most hazardous areas in the home for someone prone to falls is the stairs. In fact, if they live alone and have to tackle a flight of stairs a couple of times a day it can often lead to the decision that they may need to move house.
It is sad to have to do so simply to remove the risk of stairs and absolutely life enhancing to facilitate staying in a much-loved home by finding a solution to this particular hazard. A domestic lift, for example, can bring the ultimate independence for older people as it removes the worry of dealing with stairs, or even the need to get on and off a stairlift.
Plus, with every possible safety feature built in, you know that as a loved one you can have total peace of mind and the family member can access all floors of the house at the touch of a button.
Home Lift Experts advise on a range of home lifts on the market, including Stiltz home lifts which have a surprisingly small footprint yet can carry a wheelchair, the stylish and discreet Lifton home lift, or the Scandinavian-designed Aritco home lift packed with artistic features.