Senior Guidance

How to Care for Seniors with Mobility Issues

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How to Care for Seniors with Mobility Issues

Aging is an inevitable process that everyone will go through eventually. Progressing in age does come with some challenges including mobility issues.

As we age, most of us are no longer able to move around with ease because of stability issues. The unsteadiness comes with the weakening of muscles as well as joint problems and other neurological diseases.

Senior citizens with mobility issues require extra cautious care to ensure that they do not suffer from unfortunate falls or more severe injuries.

What Causes Mobility Issues as We Age?

To begin with, as we age we start to lose our muscle mass as well as function. The muscle degradation process kicks off in your 30s and comes about due to age-related sarcopenia.

People who are not physically active lose up to 3 to 5% of muscle mass with each passing decade. However, everyone suffers from age-related muscle loss regardless of physical activity.

The effects are felt significantly with old age, and one of the main ones is the impediment to muscle and brain communication. The nerve cells tasked with sending signals from the brain to create movements reduce in numbers with old age.

One of the other effects of age-related muscle degradation includes the decrease of the body’s process to synthesize protein into energy. Also, with dietary changes, most older adults do not get enough protein daily to sustain their muscle mass.

Some of the other causes of mobility issues related to aging include osteoarthritis, cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer's or dementia, and injuries or accidents that lead to mobility problems.

How Do Mobility Issues Affect the Elderly?

With decreased muscle control and response, one of the main mobility issues that affect older people is suffering from accidental falls.

Falls can lead to more severe injuries such as bruises, broken bones, hip fractures and the fear of falling. Given that older adults also suffer from bone density loss, their bones are much more prone to breaking with falls. Healing also takes significantly longer for bruises and broken bones sustained by senior citizens.

Falls can worsen pre-existing medical illnesses and also result in new ones. For instance, circulatory problems can arise after falls, leading to blood clots, pneumonia, pressure ulcers and decreased strength.

Even in the absence of injury with falls, senior citizens have much more difficulty getting up after a fall. With several falls, senior citizens tend to become fearful of falling, and they may stop trying to get around altogether. Inactivity further leads to additional health problems in the elderly.

How to Create a Better Environment to Reduce Mobility-Based Hazards

Prevention is often better than cure, but when it comes to mobility issues, most senior adults find management is the best solution. Every older person will suffer from different degrees of mobility problems based on their overall health. One of the options to care for seniors with mobility issues is to seek the help of assisted living facilities that specialize in such cases. Alternatively, when caring for your loved one or the one in your care at home, there are some things that you can do as a caregiver to create a better environment for the elderly and reduce mobility-based hazards.

  • Encourage Activity

Help your loved one or the older person that you care for to engage in regular exercise activities. Go for simple yet effective exercises like walks and yoga to improve flexibility as well as strengthen the muscle.

With increased muscle mass comes better balance and management of mobility issues in senior citizens.

  • Adopt a Healthy Diet

To promote the building of muscle mass, it is imperative for aging adults to start eating healthily. Healthy eating also helps to maintain a healthy weight, making it easier to get around.

Older adults need to include protein sources that the body can synthesize with ease to their diets. The protein sources include poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds, and beans.

  • Eliminate Fall Hazards at Home

The bathroom, kitchen, and stairway are where most incidents of falls occur. Proof these areas with mats or rubber appliques, and if possible, install raised toilet seats.

Perform a thorough spring cleaning and get rid of loose wires and rugs that could lead to accidental falls. Make sure that the hallways, bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as other rooms, are well lit for good measure.

  • Get a Medical Assessment

Get a physical assessment from a doctor as well as an evaluation of any medication the elderly person is taking. Some medications may cause distraction or drowsiness and balance issues, increasing the risk of accidental slips or falls.

A medical assessment will also reveal any other health problems that could result in mobility issues. Regular vision and hearing checks are necessary because they might also lead to falls.

  • Using Mobility Aids

Sometimes using mobility aids is the best solution to managing age-related mobility issues. Consult with a doctor about the best walking aids to use as opposed to "self-medicating."

Find out the particular type of walking aid needed with the right height adjustment. In the case of hip fractures, old people often have to get confined to wheelchairs or use walkers or canes to get around. Getting proper footwear goes hand in hand with enhancing balance as well as ability to get around with ease. The best type of shoes for elderly people are flat-heeled shoes that offer lumbar support and with good grip.

  • Give Them Their Independence

As a caregiver, it comes naturally to want to help the elderly person that you are taking care of with getting around. Sometimes, it is best not to help too much to allow them the independence they need to stay active.

As much as you may fear that they will fall or something may happen to them, when in places that do not pose any risks of falls allow them to move around freely.

Caregivers can offer the comfort, companionship, and care the older adults need with everyday activities. The extra care with tasks such as bathing, eating and keeping up with medicine intake enables a senior citizen to enjoy a stress-free life during their golden years. Caregivers can also help to identify fall hazards and implement safety measures around your home to improve on overall safety.