How to Improve Elderly Mobility
As you get older, you may find that your mobility isn’t as good as it once was. You may also worry about elderly loved ones and their mobility levels, especially if they live alone. Getting older is inevitable, but a sudden change in mobility levels can be frustrating or worrying for those affected. Mobility issues can affect a wide range of day-to-day activities, from climbing the stairs, to bathing, dressing or walking with confidence.
Millions of people experience mobility issues of varying severity, but luckily there are things you can do to help. If you or a loved one are looking for ways to improve elderly mobility, read on for our handy guide.
Why is mobility so important?
Mobility is essential for many reasons and not just for the physical benefits either. Mobility allows us to live independently, access basic needs like food, socialise, stay healthy, and take part in physical activities. Mobility is also vital to help prevent injury, improve balance and coordination and reduce the chances of accidents.
Our mobility may decrease as we get older but it’s important to stay as active as possible and make mobility a priority. There’s strong evidence to suggest that people with higher mobility have a lower risk of many conditions, including stroke, type two diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and even some cancers. Increased mobility can improve mental health too, allowing elderly people to feel more independent, social and confident. There are many different ways to help improve mobility, from exercise to home adaptations, so see below to find out more.
Exercising and staying as active as possible is one of the best ways to improve and maintain mobility as we age. The thought of exercise can be daunting if you’re struggling with mobility issues but any form of gentle activity will help. If you’re not sure where to start, a physiotherapist who specialises in elderly patients can help. They’ll be able to recommend some exercises and activities that are best suited to your level of mobility.
You can start performing mobility exercises with something as gentle as a toe lift, or gentle ‘push ups’ against the wall. Regular stretching and gentle walks also help to keep your joints flexible and improve comfort. Swimming is another excellent exercise to help improve mobility as the water provides support for the muscles and joints. If you don’t have easy access to a pool, try some gentle yoga or pilates to improve flexibility.
Stretching is also vital to help improve mobility and many exercises can be comfortably performed sitting down. As well as improving mobility, stretching also increases blood flow, reduces stress and boosts mood. Stretches can be static (where you hold a single position for up to 45 seconds) or dynamic (controlled movements which help to warm up the muscles).
A combination of both static and dynamic stretching is recommended for elderly people looking to improve their mobility. Aim to complete some gentle stretches every day, including exercises like neck stretching, a gentle back stretch and ankle circles. Speak to your doctor or physiotherapist beforehand if you’re worried about your mobility or want more information about which stretches would be most beneficial.
One of the most common mobility issues amongst the elderly is reduced balance. This can lead to a lack of confidence in day-to-day life, as you may be worried about falls or moving about safely. Mobility and balance are interconnected; lack of mobility affects balance and coordination, and lack of balance means that you might feel less confident being mobile.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to improve balance and coordination, and therefore improve mobility too. Yoga and Tai Chi are both great for improving balance and there are plenty of exercises available for beginners. Dancing is also an enjoyable way of getting some gentle exercise and improving balance. Many care home staff use dancing as an effective exercise for their elderly residents, especially those with dementia.
Adapt your home
Adaptations for your home can greatly improve mobility and help to make day-to-day life easier. Before you begin, you may want to arrange a home assessment to see which adaptations would be most suitable.
A home assessment is free and arranged via your local council. They’ll send an occupational therapist to visit your home (or that of a loved one) to assess your needs and see which day-to-day tasks you’re struggling with. They’ll then recommend adaptations which could help and in many cases small adaptations (up to £1,000) will be paid for by the council. You may also be eligible for financial aid towards the cost of more expensive adaptations in the form of a grant from Disabled Facilities or Independence at Home.
Adaptations that could improve elderly mobility include:
- Adding grab rails in the bathroom or in corridors.
- Indoor or outdoor steps or lift ramps.
- Installing a walk-in shower or bath.
- Widening doorways.
- Lowering kitchen counters.
- Extra security like outdoor lights or an intercom system.
- Installing a homelift
- Request a comfort height toilet
- Add a bespoke bidet seat
Find the right mobility aids
The right mobility aids can significantly improve day-to-day mobility and give elderly people more confidence to live independently. Mobility aids include more permanent adaptations to your home, such as a home lift or walk-in bath, as well as smaller pieces of equipment that can make day-to-day life easier.
If you need assistance with walking or balance, consider a walking stick, frame, or rolling walker. Regular walking with the help of mobility aid is much better than no movement at all and many elderly people find it helps them regain some confidence and independence. A wheelchair can also be extremely useful if you want to travel long distances and move around easily. Again, an assessment can help to examine your needs and decide which type of mobility aids would be the most useful.
Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet is just as important as exercise when it comes to improving mobility. Elderly people often have smaller appetites but it’s essential that you or your loved one still gets all the vitamins and minerals they need. Smaller, more regular meals might be preferable to three main meals a day and be sure to include plenty of fruit, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates like sweet potato or beans.
Fluid is also essential and anyone elderly should drink plenty of water. It’s easier to become dehydrated as we age, as a lower fluid content in the body decreases the thirst response. Get into the habit of drinking frequently throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty, and especially before and after any exercise.
Bespoke mobility bathrooms from the experts at Bespoke Bathing
If you or a loved one is struggling with mobility issues, consider a custom-designed bathroom that can meet your needs, from the experts at Bespoke Bathing. We specialise in disabled bathroom solutions to allow people with mobility issues to bathe in safety and comfort. Our professional surveyors can visit your home to get a better idea of your needs, before custom designing a bathroom that suits all your requirements. You can request a brochure here or a home visit here for a free home assessment.
We’re proud to offer a range of equipment, including walk-in showers, walk-in baths, wet rooms and mobility showers. You don’t have to compromise on beauty or practicality when you choose a bathroom from Bespoke Bathing and we serve customers throughout England, Scotland and Wales. For more information about our bathroom solutions or to discuss your requirements, don’t hesitate to give us a call today or contact us via the website.