Understanding Why There is a Reduced Mobility in Elderly People
Reduced mobility is something that can occur to everyone as they age; after all, in their younger years a person is often juggling many time-intensive tasks, such as working, bringing up a family, caring for parents, etc. As children grow up and retirement beckons, a slower pace of life is often the result, with hours to fill and the looming risk of sitting in the same place for too long. In addition, friends may decide to move nearer to their families in later life, which risks the loss of vital social relationships. This further increases the risk of loneliness and a loss of confidence in leaving the house alone.
How to Prevent a Loss of Mobility in Elderly People
Sometimes, a reluctance to mobilise can be as much to do with a lack of confidence as actual physical ability. If someone is worried that they are going to fall over when they get up from their chair, they will be more inclined to stay there. Asking a loved one how you could help them to move around their home more confidently – perhaps by helping them to de-clutter or rearrange rooms – may be all it takes to start building their confidence once again. Below are some other suggestions for why your loved one may be reluctant to increase their mobility.
If pain is an issue and is preventing someone from wanting to be more active, then encouraging them to speak to a medical professional about pain relief is essential. Many older people are reluctant to go to the GP and ask for advice but there are alternatives, such as speaking to a pharmacist or phoning 111. Gently advising them to seek some professional advice about their pain relief requirements may help them recognise that they don’t have to resign themselves to being in pain.
Strength and balance training
According to the NHS, “Doing regular strength exercises and balance exercises can improve your strength and balance, and reduce your risk of having a fall.” As fear of falling is one of the worries that can limit someone’s mobility, doing exercises to decrease the risk is a positive preventative measure. They go on to tell us that “simple activities such as walking and dancing, or specialist training programmes” could be some of the options available in the local area. These activities could have the added advantage of reducing the risk of social isolation by encouraging someone to leave their home regularly, which is a great way to increase emotional wellbeing too.
Source mobility equipment that will increase confidence
If confidence has decreased because of a fall or hospital stay, an occupational therapist can have a chat with the person and their loved ones about keeping them mobile at home. This could involve having a Zimmer frame, wheeled walking aid, stair lift, grab rails, or ramps installed. If steps are difficult to navigate it can prevent someone from making the most of their home environment and be tempted to remain in one position for most of the time. Sometimes minor structural work may need to be carried out to increase doorway widths or alter stairs for wheelchair or walking aid access, but this can be a good idea if it makes the home easier to navigate. Once confidence with the new equipment has begun to increase then it will make it easier to get out into the local community again.
Jean* is 84 years old and lives with age-related frailties. She had lost confidence in walking unaided outside, post-lockdown, which meant she was spending large amounts of time sitting in her chair at home. This had the effect of increasing the stiffness and pain in her knees, and she would then find it more difficult to stand and walk, which continued the cycle. Jean had always resisted having any kind of mobility equipment at home as she considered it to be ‘for old people’, yet this resistance was keeping her isolated at home for most of the time. Her family gently suggested that a wheeled walking aid may be beneficial and after talking it through for a while and seeing that a neighbour had increased her mobility with one, she agreed to try.
The first time she used it she admitted it had been a revelation, halving the time it took her to walk anywhere and decreasing the pain in her back and knees. She has continued to increase in confidence and walk further distances than she has in years, improving not just her mobility but her mental health too.
(*Not her real name)
Going for a walk in a favourite local area is an activity that we sometimes take for granted – until we begin to struggle with our mobility and rapidly lose confidence in doing things that we’ve previously enjoyed. Having some support to get out and about is a great way to increase mobility while feeling confident, and with Helping Hands elderly care by your side you’ll have a friend and caregiver in one! Our carers support customers on either a visiting or live-in basis, offering help from an hour or two a week, up to around-the-clock. Walking the dog, taking their customer for coffee and cake, supporting them to go shopping, nothing is too difficult for our compassionate caregivers.
Do things together
Ultimately, the best way to encourage someone to be more active is to do the activity with them, as we all find things more rewarding when we can share it with others. Whether that’s living room yoga, pruning the garden, walking the dog, or going on a day trip. That’s where our Helping Hands visiting and live in care makes all the difference to thousands of lives – but don’t take our word for it, our 2500 Trustpilot reviews say it better than we ever could!