An injury, a chronic disease like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's, an amputation, or old age can contribute to a variety of mobility issues, which can make navigating stairs, getting up from a seated position, or walking for extended periods of time, a serious challenge at times. Caring for individuals with mobility issues, especially when their mobility is quite limited, can be difficult, but thankfully there are tools, resources, and modifications available that can be a tremendous help in making everyday life a little easier.
For the elderly, the decrease in mobility is incredibly common and progressive with age. This is why you should be aware of the modern tools and strategies that simply make it easier and safer for loved ones to move from one place to the other. That way you have the knowledge and are prepared when the time comes for you to assist aging loved ones with their mobility challenges.
So, how can we help the elderly with limited mobility? Read on to learn more.
Different ways to help the elderly with limited mobility
Assess the individual
Start by evaluating the existing mobility condition of your loved one. Is there something you can do to help make their mobility better right now? Changes in the type of assistive devices they have may make them more mobile and independent. Consider the following mobility devices:
- Canes: Canes come in a variety of forms, sizes, and styles. For added stability, some have four prongs, while some just have one. They have really come a long way in their design and there are so many to choose from. Canes can enable individuals to walk upright by providing a support base, which can be a great option for some who are resistant to a more obvious assistive device such as a walker.
- Walkers: Walkers are available in many different styles. Walkers with sleds or wheels make it possible to walk without picking up the walker. On the other hand, four-pronged walkers require lifting while moving forward. The best one will be determined by your loved one’s level of ability, but it is also important to keep in mind what’s to come. Going the wheeled route may be great for longer term use as their condition progresses. There are also walkers with built-in seats and storage that are also helpful and convenient.
- Wheelchairs: These are useful for people who are fairly immobile. You can find both electric and manual wheelchairs in the mobility devices market today. These can help keep loved ones safe if they really shouldn’t be walking on their own.
- Ankle-foot orthotic (AFO): AFOs help people walk by enabling them to bend their ankles to improve their foot clearance. When the shin muscles are difficult to control, AFOs can come in handy. People that have foot-drop can benefit a lot from AFOs. AFOs are usually worn up to the mid-shin and prevent dragging. They also help to improve the stability of the ankles.
Consider home modification
After assessing their abilities and challenges and determining the type of mobility device needed, look at the modifications that can be made in their home to make movement easy. Remember not to get overwhelmed though, some modifications can be incredibly easy, inexpensive, and highly effective to implement, so try starting with the simple things.
The aim of home modification is to enable your loved one to stay at home comfortably and safely. Here are some important modifications you can make to improve mobility in the home:
- Installation of ramps over existing steps and door thresholds. Portable wheelchair ramps are a great option.
- Installation of grab bars in slippery areas such as bathrooms
- Installation of banisters next to stairs
- Rearranging furniture to create walking and wheelchair paths
- Widening doorways for broad mobility devices such as wheelchairs
- Installation of additional sources of light in dark areas
Give mobility and transfer assistance
It's important to remember that you shouldn't immediately step in and provide assistance without first asking. If your loved one is unable to walk without aid, remain courteous and inquire if they are willing to accept assistance. If they simply require assistance in getting from one location to the next, provide that first; if you notice they are having a tough day, acknowledge that you are aware of their hardship and that it is okay, and you'll be there if they need help. Losing independence is difficult, so being understanding of their frustration and grief is vital.
When transferring your loved one, it’s important to use correct body mechanics to avoid injuries. Calling upon certified caregivers to perform these tasks is always recommended so that your loved one gets the safest level of care possible.
Establish an exercise regimen
Exercise is important for everyone, but especially for the elderly with limited mobility. With the help of a physical or occupational therapist, you can get great advice on different exercise regimens. You can also involve friends and family to help encourage your loved one to be active, so they don’t feel like they’re at it alone.
Provide emotional care
It can be upsetting, stressful, and often depressing for those who are newly experiencing mobility problems or a transition in mobility. It's crucial to pay attention to your loved one’s body language and mood signals, particularly if they don't want to speak about their feelings. So encourage them to speak up, invite them to share any thoughts or questions they may have. When appropriate, provide reassurance, encouragement, and support.
Encourage family caregivers to help
You shouldn’t take the load of caring for loved ones all on your shoulders. Reaching out to other family members is a great way to help lighten your burden. Establishing a schedule where other people can come in on a regular basis to help out, simply keep them company, etc. is a great approach.
Now that you know how to help the elderly with limited mobility, you need to ensure that the solutions you or they invest in are reliable, affordable, and durable. At EZ-ACCESS, we provide a wide variety of residential mobility solutions to make your work easier as you take care of parents, grandparents, or other family members. Our products are designed with safety in mind and are easy to install. Contact us today for more information.