Mobility issues are common in seniors. Approximately 10.2 percent of all US seniors require canes, according to the University of California, San FranciscoDisability Statistics Center; in addition, 4.6 percent require walkers, and 3 percent use wheelchairs or scooters. After age 85, the total percentage of older adults relying on mobility assistance jumps to just under 40 percent. This issue can be very frustrating. Loss of mobility often limits independence, and it can lead to depression.
By following these tips for caregivers, you’ll help your loved one manage her frustration and overcome the emotional challenges associated with mobility issues.
Offer Support and Encouragement
Problems with independent movement signal major life changes for many seniors. Once issues start, seniors can no longer deny the fact that they are aging, and they must come to accept the new physical limitations this will place on them. You can help your loved one through this by validating his emotions and ensuring that he talks to his doctor if depression becomes an issue.
You can also help him solve the logistical issues that may stem from his mobility issues. For example, if driving is no longer an option, you can arrange rides to social events. The key is to make sure he knows you will not allow limited mobility to limit his social life or prevent him from engaging with hobbies he enjoys.
Choose the Right Assistive Devices
Assistive devices can make a big difference in your loved one’s independence. Her doctor or therapist may have offered a cane or walker, but there are a number of other devices that can be used as well. Available technologies include transfer discs to help her get out of bed, risers to help her up from the couch, and swivel seats to make it easier to get in and out of the car. Some of these can be life changing; for example, a shower chair can make it possible for her to bathe on her own. Talk to your loved one’s doctor about how assistive devices help her live more independently.
One of the main reasons mobility issues frustrate seniors is because their independence can be greatly impacted. Once they recognize they can still get around on their own, confidence and a sense of independence are typically restored.
If your loved one is capable of driving, a handicapped parking tag will allow him to park close to the building and give him easy access to ramps. If driving on his own isn’t an option, many cities and towns have buses and vans designed specifically for seniors. Most feature easy-to-understand schedules, senior-friendly seating, and even wheelchair lifts. Exploring transportation options with your loved is a great way to help him retain his independence.
Investing in a medical alert system may also help your loved one feel more confident. Knowing help is never more than the press of a button away enables seniors to live more independently and affords you peace of mind.
Another key to building your loved one’s independence is offering assistance — but try to avoid being overbearing in this regard. He needs to know you are there to support him, but he also needs the confidence that comes with knowing he can still accomplish a lot of things on his own.
Mobility issues can be frustrating for seniors. These tips can help your loved one rebuild confidence and retain independence for a longer, higher-quality life.