Senior citizens have more challenges moving around as they age. Weakened joints, atrophied muscles, dizziness, nerve issues, medications, foot pain, and confusion can all contribute to falls, injuries, or worse. Whether navigating around the house or outdoor settings, mobility aids for seniors reduce the risk of falls, resulting in a higher quality of life.
There are a variety of solutions available if you or an elderly relative have mobility issues. Read on to learn more about mobility equipment for seniors and how to improve mobility in any situation.
The Importance of Senior Mobility Aids
The CDC reports that one in four seniors fall every year. That’s about 36 million falls, resulting in around 32,000 deaths annually. Of these falls, 20% cause severe injuries like head injuries or broken bones. Hip fractures can be particularly immobilizing and dangerous for seniors—and more than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls.
Falls can cause costly and harmful injuries, and after the first fall, seniors are twice as likely to fall again.
It’s not just the injuries themselves that are cause for concern. Seniors heal more slowly, and if their muscles atrophy while they’re immobilized, a vicious cycle begins that can drastically decrease their agility.
Seniors also have higher mortality rates associated with major surgeries and have more difficulty with anesthesia. Oxygen deprivation while in surgery can worsen symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia in seniors; secondary infections are also more common—and more difficult to ward off.
Obviously, every precaution should be taken to prevent falls. Protect yourself and your quality of life by choosing the right mobility aids.
Choosing Mobility Aids for Seniors
There are several assistive devices that senior citizens can use depending on their level of mobility. Medicaid programs or local charities and some government programs provide assistance, or local senior care charities may even cover part of the equipment expenses in many cases.
Choosing the right aid will depend on your level of mobility and the layout of your home. From maximum support to minimal assistance, the following aids can help provide stability and balance when you’re walking, standing, and reaching.
Most people think of canes first when mobility devices for seniors are discussed. And for good reason! This is one of the most popular and widely available mobility aids in the United States. It’s also typically the first mobility device that seniors use as their mobility begins to decline.
Canes provide a little extra support and stability as you walk, and can also provide extra balance while standing. But you should never rest your full weight on your cane in case it loses traction!
Canes come in a variety of styles, from plain metal and rubber to custom carved, wooden canes. Choose a cane that complements your style and your budgetary preferences. Just make sure that it has a wide rubber tip to prevent slippage on slick flooring.
Walkers are the next step-up as mobility aids for seniors. They are generally shaped like a tray supported by A-frames. They may have wheels, rubber tips, or tennis balls to provide traction and movement against the floor.
Many seniors avoid walkers for as long as possible because they are associated with old age or admitting they have mobility issues. But many, many studies have proven that the early adoption of walkers can significantly lower your chances of a fall. And since falls generally decrease quality of life, you could claim that walkers are symbolic of a higher quality of life!
If you have difficulty lifting your cane or balancing while standing, or if you experience frequent dizzy spells or periods of confusion, you should consider using a walker to decrease your risk of falling. Just remember, walkers can be difficult to maneuver, so you need to have decent upper-body mobility.
Rollators are like walkers on wheels, but they also have seats attached to them in case you need to sit down. This is an excellent mobility option for a senior who has difficulty walking certain distances or who needs to rest frequently.
Rollators are often easier to navigate and push than walkers, which means you can get around more quickly. But if you have severe balance issues, walkers provide more traction, so carefully consider your options and ability level before choosing.
Power scooters are perfect for a senior who cannot walk long distances but still has good control of their upper body. Just as they sound, power scooters are electrically-powered chairs that you can drive around.
Power scooters are most often used outdoors and in public locations like the grocery store or the doctor’s office. You can also use them in your home, but your home has to be laid out to accommodate the size of your scooter.
Wheelchairs are an excellent mobility aid for a senior who cannot walk without assistance. The only downside is that if you do not have the upper body strength to propel yourself, you will need someone to push the wheelchair for you.
This lack of independence can be frustrating for many seniors, but it’s a great option when you’re unable to get around without help. If you’re able to get around the house but not much more than walking from room to room, having a wheelchair handy can make gathering with your family much easier.
Power wheelchairs are another option that can also be an excellent mobility aid for a senior who cannot walk without assistance and does not have the upper body strength to propel themselves on a regular wheelchair. These chairs offer more independence than a power scooter chair or regular wheelchair and have 6 or more wheels, allowing for more function and support.
Importance of Maintaining Physical Mobility Health
Mobile aids are a blessing to have as we age and find ourselves or an elderly relative having mobility issues. However, maintaining one's physical mobility health is very important and needs to be a priority as time goes on. Without a doubt, the best way to maintain and improve senior mobility is through staying active and practicing mobility skills. A few things that can help are:
- Go for a walk every day
- Do some stretching
- Participate in exercise with low-impact cardio
- Work on balance and coordination
- Practice correct posture
- Maintain proper nutrition
To learn more about how to maintain mobility in old age, click here. And don’t forget to drop by the Senior Center for more information on exercise to improve mobility for seniors!
Mobility Aids for Blind Seniors
There are plenty of mobility resources available for seniors with failing eyesight or for the legally blind. Talk to your doctor or care coordinator about the availability of low-vision lighting, canes, pedestrian aids, service dogs, magnifiers, and braille signs and labels.
For help finding the mobility resources you need in Little Rock or the surrounding area, contact CareLink today! We’re happy to help you find the services and resources you need.