It is almost inevitable that as we get older we will at some point lose some degree of mobility. You could be the most fit and healthy person on the planet but your body will eventually give up the ghost and tasks that may have once been easy are suddenly fraught with difficulties. But you shouldn’t allow this to affect your quality of life and nor should it prevent you from living safely in your own home. This article looks at some ways to cope with elderly mobility problems to ensure older people can carry on living in their own homes without risking injury.
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
The older we get, the weaker and less flexible our joints become as ligaments shorten. Movement becomes stiffer because the lubricating synovial fluid inside the joints decreases and the cartilage becomes thinner. What was once a simple movement to stand up from a seated position is now something you have to gee yourself up to do. But you can’t spend the rest of your days sat in the armchair, so it might be time to start looking at other options to make your life just that little bit easier and a lot more pain free.
Riser recliner chairs are the perfect solution if you suffer from things like bad posture, achy joints, swollen legs and feet, or if you just generally suffer from age related aches and pains. There are two main types of riser recliner chair to choose from: single motor (back and foot rest move at the same time) and dual motor (back and foot rest move independently of each other), but both offer the chance to get in a more comfortable position when seated as well as giving you a helpful boost when it’s time to rise to your feet. It’s worth trying both types out so that you see what works best for you and you could have a look at these riser recliner chairs from Fenetic Wellbeing to give you more of an idea of the styles available. Just like choosing a new three piece suite, riser recliner chairs come in a range of different fabric and colour options so you needn’t be concerned about it not matching the rest of your living room decor.
And of course once you’ve got your chair sorted, it’s time to start putting it to even more good use and using it as an exercise aid. Yes that’s right, it is completely possible to have a good workout from the comfort of your chair. Chair yoga has been used in a work environment for a while now as part of company wellness programs, but the same principles can be applied to the elderly too, who like desk workers spend a lot of their time sat down.
Yoga is great as it can be scaled up or down according to the ability of the participant. It consists of a series of gentle stretches, joint rotations and muscle strengthening exercises that can easily be done while seated or by using the chair as a support aid when standing. There are lots of guides and walk through tutorials available online, but of course ask advice from your GP first to make sure they give you the go ahead to do this form of exercise.
The hardest thing for many elderly people is being able to confidently move around their homes without the risk of a fall. However, the risk of falling is greatly increased when we age as our balance may not be what it once was and because the brain tends to have a much slower reaction speed as we get older, meaning we are more likely to trip over any obstacles that could be in the way.
If someone has fallen once already it’s no surprise that their confidence is knocked and could potentially result in them becoming too frightened to carry out tasks which involve walking. But this needn’t be the end to independent living, it’s just a question of finding the right walking aid to assist and support you in your home.
There are so many walking aids to choose from: walkers, rollators, walking sticks, triwalkers, wheelchairs, grab rails to name but a few. However, the most important thing is to find the right type for your own personal needs, as the wrong one could actually result in a fall through not being supported in the right way or by not using it correctly.
The best thing is to ask your GP or health practitioner for advice and they may also be able to help source the walking aids through the NHS. A physiotherapist for example, will be able to carry out an assessment on your gait, balance and strength and this in turn will help determine which walking aid will assist you the most. It is also worth considering what footwear you wear around the house as this could make a difference to how strong you stand and how easily you move about. No matter how comfortable your beloved pair of tattered old slippers are they definitely won’t be supporting your feet as well as a cushioned pair of trainers for example.
Walking aids are a key component in elderly fall prevention as they help to instil confidence and independence in older people who want to retain an active social life and live the life they’re used to.
Time For Bed
In much the same way as how getting out of a chair can be difficult for the elderly so too is getting out of bed, if not more so. All that time spent in one position overnight can leave the joints super stiff come the morning and simply sitting up, twisting to place your feet on the floor and then rising to standing can be a strenuous and painful experience.
Like riser recliner chairs, an adjustable motorised bed will help make you more mobile and take the pressure off of your body by doing most of the movement for you. Again do your research, as there are lots of different models to choose from each with their own set of functions and techno gadgetry. Features may include: massage and vibration therapy systems, adjustable height settings, and multi area incline and declines etc. And of course it is essential you find the perfect mattress to go with your new bed, one that supports your body and allows you to have the best night’s sleep possible.
It’s also a good idea to think about some of the tools you could keep by your bed to make your life easier when you first wake up. An easy-reach grabber is great to pick up any objects that may be slightly out of reach, for example a pair of socks or slippers and a long-handled shoehorn is handy for putting on your shoes without having to lean down.
Making changes in your home needn’t be costly; here are lots of simple and small changes that can be made to aid elderly mobility around the home. Ask a relative to pop over and help walk around the house with you, making a list of any potential issues as you go round. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is every room well lit? – You may benefit from fitting motion sensor lights that switch on automatically when they sense movement, as this will help you see any potential tripping hazards.
- Are the doorways wide enough? – If you’ve decided to invest in a walking aid you need to make sure your doorways can accommodate them enough to give you free and easy movement.
- What tripping hazards are there? – Look out for trailing wires, loose or uplifted carpet, general clutter, and broken handrails.
It could be that despite your increased mobility problems, that actually your home just isn’t suited for you any more. Maybe you would benefit from downsizing, or maybe you need to live somewhere that doesn’t have stairs, or perhaps it’s even time to think about whether living on your own is no longer the safest option for you any more. It’s a tough decision to make, as our homes hold so many memories for us, but ultimately your health and safety is what matters the most and so it is time to get real and face up to how best to live your life going forwards.
Raise The Alarm
While a personal alarm doesn’t directly help with elderly mobility issues, it does offer some reassurance that help is there should you fall and this in turn allows older people to feel more confident in their own homes. It’s better to be safe than sorry and if you are insistent on staying at home and doing the tasks that may sometimes be difficult for you, then this is an absolute necessity.
Personal alarms can be worn around the neck a bit like a necklace, or as a wristband, or you can have them fitted as pull cords throughout various rooms in your house. They are linked to a 24 hour emergency care service, so that should you fall or need help, you simply raise the alarm by pressing a button or pulling a cord and someone will come out to check that you are OK. You may have slipped and fallen in the shower, stumbled on the stairs or fallen out of bed and then been unable to get yourself back up. Knowing that help is coming is a huge relief, and not just for the person in question, but also for that person’s family members too.
Show You Care
And finally, it may not be what you want to hear, but sometimes you do just need to accept that you need additional help and a carer may be exactly the answer to your continued mobility at home. Enlisting the help of a carer to help out with certain activities and tasks that are proving too taxing for you will make your life a lot easier and will help you remain in your own home for as long as you possibly can. You may reach a point where moving into a care home becomes the safest option, but for now a carer will allow you to keep that level of independence that you so crave. Remember, asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Plus not only will it give you much needed assistance, but it will also provide companionship too, and that can be just as important as we get older, especially if you live on your own.
Getting around with limited mobility can be difficult and a times dangerous for seniors, but that doesn’t mean their lives should be taken over and changed beyond what they would like it to be. It simply means changes need to be made and help accepted so that they can continue to live in their own home as independently as they can while keeping safe and well.