As we age, our bodies go through a series of physiological changes that can drastically impair our ability to live our lives freely. These changes can result in a loss of cognitive thinking skills, as well as a decrease in mobility.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll review ways that older adults can maintain their mobility, and we'll discuss the most popular and helpful mobility aids that make getting older easier.
3 Tips for Seniors to be More Mobile
Exercising is one of the best-proven ways to maintain your mobility and independence as you get older. In 2014, a study spanning 2.6 years, was conducted to measure the effect that physical activity could have on preventing mobility disability in seniors.
The findings showed that physical activity can drastically improve senior mobility, and it’s recommended that you enroll in an exercise program that can help you achieve your fitness goals.
Even doing a 30-minute walk every day can have a vast impact on your overall health and well-being. Here’s a comprehensive list of exercises that you can do to improve your mobility, strength, and balance.
Maintain a healthy weight and diet
Being overweight can cause a functional decline that can lead to mobility impairment. As you get older and your body changes, it becomes very important to maintain a healthy weight and balanced diet. Good ways to stay on top of what you eat include:
Talk with your doctor or a nutritionist to learn what your ideal weight should be and what foods you should incorporate and remove from your diet to help you reach your health goals.
Invest in a mobility aid
If you experience moderate to severe mobility disability and need help getting around, then you might want to consider using a mobility aid. Mobility aids provide stability and support and make it easier to do simple tasks like getting up and sitting down, walking around the house, etc.
There are all sorts of mobility aids available to you. Talk to your doctor to see if a mobility aid is necessary, and together you can determine which mobility device would work best for you.
Mobility Scooters for Seniors
Similar to wheelchairs, mobility scooters are electric-powered devices that are recommended for seniors who have a hard time walking long distances. They operate almost like a motorcycle, and they’re very easy to use.
Mobility scooters can serve as an alternative to wheelchairs for seniors with limited arm and shoulder movement. They’re steered using what’s known as a tiller, and this allows you to move forward and backward and control how fast you’re going.
Some mobility scooters may include lighting controls, blinkers, or a speed limiter. There’s also a battery indicator to let you know when it’s time to charge your scooter.
Mobility scooters come in a variety of designs, and they’re all equipped with different features to meet your specific needs: These designs include:
When purchasing a mobility scooter, keep these things in mind:
Rollator Walkers for Seniors’ Mobility
Rollators, also known as wheeled walkers, are equipped with a frame, handlebar, and seat. They come in a variety of designs with anywhere between 3 to 7 wheels, and they’re used on a more consistent/permanent basis. Most rollators come with locking handle brakes as an extra measure of safety. Unlike walkers, rollators require less effort to maneuver which reduces fatigue, but at the same time makes them less stable then walkers.
Similar to mobility scooters, there are many types of rollators including indoor/outdoor rollators, 3-wheel, and 4-wheel rollators, All-terrain rollators, etc. Having a seat attached to this device lets you sit down whenever you need to regain your balance and strength. Also, if you’re standing in line somewhere, you’ll be able to rest comfortably instead of exerting your energy on standing for a long time.
There are a few things you should consider before you buy a rollator.
Wheelchairs for Seniors’ Mobility
Wheelchairs work best for people who are unable to place their full body weight on their lower limbs and people with severe disabilities. Unless someone is going to be there to push you around, you must have good arm and shoulder strength since most wheelchairs require that you push yourself to and from where you need to go. These types of chairs are what’s known as maunal wheelchairs. There are several types of wheelchairs available. They include:
Wheelchairs are a more comfortable alternative to rollators and some mobility scooters because they provide back support while you use them. By using a wheelchair, you can come and go as you please and regain control of your independent lifestyle. Here are a few tips to consider when looking for a wheelchair:
Canes for Seniors’ Mobility
Canes are typically the first line of defense when you notice a change in your mobility. Similar to crutches, canes are designed to help support the body by taking some of the load off your legs and feet. While they help support your lower body, they do put excess strain on your hands and wrists. Canes can usually hold up to about 25% of your body weight, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Using a cane can reduce your risk of falling and seriously hurting yourself. They also work to improve your balance and stability. The different types of canes include:
Canes are relatively cheap, ranging from $10 to $50, so you don’t have to worry about spending your last penny to get one. However, Medicare typically covers the cost of walking canes. Because canes come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, it’s best to meet with your doctor to find a cane that will be comfortable for you to use. You can also go someplace where they sell canes and try one out to see if it’s a good fit. This guide will teach you how to get a proper fit for your cane.
Bicycles for Seniors’ Mobility
Cycling is a great way for seniors to maintain their mobility. It works out your entire cardiovascular system, and it’s a low-impact exercise that can help slow down the aging process. A recent study in 2017 showed that cycling to and from places can lower your risk of cancer and CVD. It also concluded that cycling can help alleviate pain associated with chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes.
In addition to improving your physical health, cycling can also have a major impact on your mental health. As you get older, you may begin to notice a decline in your cognitive function. Fortunately, research shows that just 30 minutes of cycling a day can enhance your cognition and make things that were tiring to do easier.
Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself before you purchase a bike:
Stairlifts for Seniors’ Mobility
A stairlift is one of the best ways to stay in control of your independent lifestyle. It’s a device that makes it easier for older people experiencing balance issues to get up and down a flight of stairs. Stairlifts are made up of two parts: the track and the chair
The track determines how much the overall cost of the stairlift will be and where it can be placed in your home. There are 3 types of tracks:
The chair is very important because it’s the part of the stairlift that you’ll interact with the most. Depending on your mobility needs, it can be customized to make you feel more secure and comfortable while riding and going up and down on the stairlift. When looking for a chair, keep an eye out for the following features:
Don't buy a stairlift without expert advice. An expert can sit down with you and help you determine which stairlift will best suit you and your home. Additionally, be sure that you know what is covered in the cost of a stairlift. Stairlifts can range anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000, so be sure you know what you’re paying for.
On top of that, talk with your doctor/expert to see if the stairlift will be covered in part or in full by your insurance. Most of the time, they’re covered, but it’s safe to be sure before you rush out and buy one.
Shoes for Seniors’ Mobility
As we get older, chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and edema can cause swelling in the feet which makes it hard to find shoes that fit comfortably. Luckily, there are specialty shoes, also known as adaptive footwear, that’s specifically designed to make wearing shoes a lot more comfortable and safe. A few more advantages of specialty shoes include:
Along with specialty shoes, there are other types of shoes that you should consider incorporating into your wardrobe. These include:
Here are a few things to consider when you’re looking for specialty shoes:
Hearing aids for Seniors’ Mobility
Hearing loss is one of the most common problems that people face as they get older. It can lead to a higher chance of developing dementia, and it can impair your cognitive function. Having evolved drastically over the years, hearing aids provide a simple yet highly-effective solution to treat hearing loss. They magnify the sound vibrations that enter the ear and convert them into neural signals that are sent to the brain. Having a hearing aid will help you communicate better, as well as provide you with more independence. There are three types of hearing aids:
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are few things you should keep in mind when looking for a hearing aid.
GPS trackers for Seniors’ Mobility
As I mentioned before, a decrease in cognitive function and memory loss are common problems that people face when they get older. A GPS tracker is a safety device that seniors can use to find their location and their way back home. It can also be used by caregivers who are worried that their loved one will wander off and get lost. GPS trackers are typically equipped with emergency buttons that will alert loved ones with access to your tracker, and the authorities, of your location. There are a few factors that you should consider when looking for a GPS tracker.