Mobility Issues in the Elderly: Warning Signs & Steps to Take
As people get older, you may find that their mobility begins to suffer. This is very common, and in most cases it is simply one of the problems of ageing. However, it can cause enormous distress.
Even apparently minor difficulties for your elderly relative can have a large effect on their life. For example, they may not be able to go out and see their friends, or they may find shopping for their groceries too difficult. It can have social and psychological effects, and can even lead to depression.
Mobility issues can also indicate more serious health problems, so it is always important to look out for the problem signs and take steps to solve issues promptly.
Early Signs to Look Out For
There are a number of signs that you can look out for that could indicate the start of a problem in your elderly relative. These include:
- Balance issues such as becoming unsteady when walking
- Having difficulty getting out of a chair or when sitting down
- Experiencing difficulties going up or down the stairs
Potential problems could also be more subtle, such as a lowering of their personal hygiene standards, or you may notice the house becoming less tidy as they are less able to clean it properly.
One of the most serious signs is a fall. The risk of falls goes up as people age, and although a fall could well just be an accident, it could also be a sign that they are having difficulty moving properly. Falls can also lead to further mobility problems as they cause injuries.
Coping with Mobility Problems
Once it is clear that your elderly relative’s mobility is being affected, you may want to start looking for ways to help them cope.
Firstly, consider investing in mobility aids that they can use around the home. These could include small devices like walking sticks, support bars on the stairs or grab bars in the bath and shower. It could also involve larger devices like chairlifts.
You may also want to help to remove clutter in the home, fasten carpets and rugs securely and improve the lighting, all of which can help to make it easier for your elderly relative to get around the home. You could also make more significant changes around the home, such as changing the entrance stairs into a ramp or fitting a raised toilet.
Should You Seek Professional Assistance?
If you notice the signs of mobility difficulties, start by talking them over with your elderly relative. Bring the topic up in conversation and let them know that you want to help them and that they need to be honest with you about any difficulties they are having, including any pain or stiffness they feel.
It could well be worth a trip to the doctor. Sometimes a fall for no reason could indicate a more serious problem like dementia or Parkinson’s, or problems with eyesight, and it is best to catch these as early as possible.
Consider Professional Care
Often, mobility problems can affect confidence levels. Your relative may be worried about falling when you are not there, and this can prevent them from doing anything active. If so, this may be the time to start looking into options such as professional care. This does not necessarily mean a care home, but perhaps a care worker who can help your relative to be more independent in their own home.
Help Your Relative Remain Mobile
Mobility problems can have a negative effect on your elderly relative, so make sure you are doing all you can to help them maintain their independence. Even a minor reduction in mobility can be distressing, so look out for the signs, help them out in any way you can, and seek professional advice if you have any doubts