As seniors age, they may develop physical disabilities or injuries that limit them from being as mobile as they’d like.
Limited mobility or immobility is one of the most common age-related disabilities, with about 2 out of 3 seniors having experienced some struggle with walking or daily activities.
Challenges with mobility can make aging and retirement living much more difficult, but there are plenty of options for the elderly to improve their mobility and keep their independence.
How to Improve Mobility in the Elderly
- Seniors often find themselves with limited mobility in older age, but it’s possible to increase that mobility.
- Gentle yoga, strength training, stretching, and balance exercises can help to improve flexibility.
- Assistive devices such as mobility scooters or walking aids
- Assisted living centers can offer all the benefits of independent living while providing resources and support for moving around safely.
- It’s important for seniors to take safety precautions inside and outside of the home to prevent injury or physical limitations.
Limited Mobility in the Elderly
Limited mobility can impact mental and emotional health and quality of life. Seniors may lose the ability to exercise, go about their daily activities, go to the doctor, or socialize outside the home.
These limitations can lead to feelings of depression, as a lack of mobility can confine them to their home and isolate them from family and friends. It can also take away from a senior’s sense of independence, which is important to maintain throughout retirement.
4 Ways to Improve Mobility in the Elderly
Helping seniors increase or improve mobility requires the right combination of exercise and slight lifestyle modifications. Solutions to decreased mobility can be as simple as quick exercises in the home or minor diet changes.
A great way for the elderly to improve and maintain mobility levels is to exercise. Exercise is important for all ages, especially for seniors at higher risk for chronic pain and disability.
Modifications to physical activities are available for seniors with limited mobility. Physical activities incorporating stretching, balance, and strength training are ideal for seniors, as they can be most effective for improving flexibility and mobility.
Balance exercises help build muscle in the legs while improving stability. Increased stability helps seniors avoid falls which, in turn, helps them avoid debilitating injuries such as bone breaks or fractures. We’ve compiled a list of some home exercises all seniors can try.
Tight muscles can cause pain or injury in simple movements, such as reaching up or bending down. Therefore, loosening muscles is key to relieving tension.
Loosening the muscles through gentle stretch exercises can make these daily tasks easier, and relieve tension in the body.
For increasing mobility, seniors should focus on stretching their neck, shoulders, back, hamstrings, and ankles. For more tips on stretching, check out our detailed article here.
Yoga combines stretching, muscle building, and flexibility training into low-impact exercises. There are a variety of yoga difficulties that cater to people of all mobility ranges, seniors included. It can help to alleviate joint or muscle pain while relieving any stress held in the body. Yoga exercises that target different mobility levels or muscle groups can be found online and practiced at home.
Some elderly citizens are unable to improve mobility due to physical disabilities. This can prevent them from doing mundane activities like going to the supermarket or the doctor.
However, several assistive devices can help seniors with limited mobility complete their daily tasks independently.
For seniors with limited upper body strength, mobility scooters are a great option for easily moving outdoors. Mobility scooters are generally designed for short trips and can be used when getting around a grocery store or other larger areas.
Cane or Walking Aid
Canes are ideal for seniors who are better able to balance and easily shift weight from one leg to another. Canes can make mobility more fluid and allow for added balance and strength.
For seniors with more difficulty balancing, walkers provide necessary upper body support while walking in and out of the house.
Public transportation services are affordable and promote social independence, as seniors can comfortably travel without assistance.
Seniors who rely on walkers or wheelchairs can use most public transit systems, as every bus and train is legally required to have wheelchair-accessible seating.
Public transportation can encourage mobility, including walking to and from the station, walking up or down flights of stairs, and navigating crowds during rush hour. You can learn more about the transportation benefits that some Medicare Advantage plans offer here.
Assisted Living Centers
When living at home is no longer an option, an assisted living center can offer all benefits of independent living while providing resources and support for moving around safely.
Fellow seniors can help reduce the feelings of isolation that come with living alone. Facility employees are able to help seniors perform their everyday tasks and activities without risk of injury.
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for seniors. Being overweight causes extra strain and pressure on the legs, making it more difficult for the elderly to maintain or improve mobility.
That’s why eating a healthy, balanced diet that avoids processed foods and sugary drinks is important. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your diet not only helps to reduce weight gain but also to regulate blood pressure.
It’s also essential to drink plenty of water daily. Not drinking enough water can lead to tiredness, headaches, and low energy, which can increase pain after mild exercises or activities.
One stumble can cause a fall that could seriously hinder mobility. Fall-related injuries are a major concern for seniors, as sustaining injuries can limit the use of the legs, hips, and back.
To avoid simple falls, seniors should consider the safety of their environments. At home, seniors living without assistance should avoid clutter. Keep your floors free of objects that can cause falls, such as shoes, dog toys, or chairs.
When venturing outdoors, seniors should steer clear of walkways full of snow or rain and maintain a steady pace.