If your older loved ones aren't as active as they used to be, you may wonder what causes mobility issues in elderly people?
Mobility gradually reduces as we get older, but for some people, this is exacerbated by injuries or health conditions.
This can be quite difficult to come to terms with - no-one likes to admit that they can't move like they used to.
But the good news is that are lots of care options that help elderly people with mobility needs to continue to enjoy a good quality of life.
In this article we explain what causes mobility issues in elderly people and how they can be cared for.
Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:
- Mobility issues in elderly describe an array of conditions that affect your loved one’s ability to move.
- They can be caused by physical conditions like arthritis, or neurological diseases like dementia, as well as old age.
- Having mobility issues may mean that your loved one can’t do some things they used to do, which can limit their independence and quality of life.
- Elderly carers are trained in supporting mobility issues, and help to boost confidence and live a fulfilling life.
What is mobility?
Mobility in elderly adults refers to their ability to move around and keep up with essential activities of daily living.
This includes walking, sitting and standing, use of fingers, hands and arms without pain or discomfort.
However, our bodies change which causes mobility issues in elderly- whether through old age or conditions causing physical limitations.
What causes mobility issues in elderly?
Mobility issues can be caused by a specific event or progressive condition, or be an accumulation of factors.
In this section we look at some of the factors that cause mobility issues in elderly people.
Lack of physical activity
A sedentary lifestyle that lacks movement and motivation can cause mobility issues, or make existing problems worse.
Aches and pains from arthritis or even being overweight may keep you from moving as much as you should.
But gentle exercise like chair yoga for seniors can do a world of good for your muscles, bones and joints.
Are you worried about a loved one?
Loneliness and isolation
Sometimes physical activity falls by the wayside when you are feeling lonely or emotionally isolated.
Loneliness can cause depression and even walking to the shop, or getting out of bed can be a struggle.
Becoming less mobile in this way can have damaging effects on physical and mental health.
So find out more about how to cope with loneliness and improve quality of life for elderly loved ones.
Conditions such as Osteoarthritis affect older people as it is a degenerative disease, meaning it gets worse over time.
Osteoarthritis commonly occurs in the hands, knees, hips, lower back, and neck and targets bone, cartilage, ligaments, fat, and tissues.
It causes inflammation, stiffness and pain which contributes to an overall loss of mobility in elderly people.
This can affect their independence and ability to carry out daily living activities, especially if they don’t get help with arthritis care.
When coinciding with other health conditions, such as dementia, loss of mobility is part of the vicious cycle of the disease.
As the neurological symptoms intensify, people with dementia can become more immobile and frail.
Their brain cannot support movement such as walking, sitting or holding objects, which puts them at risk when not supervised.
They may become sedentary, always sitting or lying down, further contributing to mobility issues as they become frail and stiff.
Other conditions that can cause mobility issues in elderly include:
- Heart problems
- Reduced hearing and eyesight
- Weight gain and obesity
What are the warning signs for mobility issues in elderly?
- Balance issues like becoming unsteady when walking
- Difficulty changing position when getting out of a chair or sitting down
- Issues when using the stairs
- Fear or lack of confidence and motivation to attempt movement independently
How does loss of mobility affect elderly people?
Elderly people with mobility issues may find themselves unable to do everything they are used to doing, without extra help.
Older adults who are losing their mobility may need part-time support with home care visits to help with certain tasks at home.
However, the full-time support of a live-in care worker may be needed for people with advanced mobility issues.
The loss of mobility can compromise their abilities to a degree where care is needed round the clock, including carers who sleep overnight.
Elderly people with mobility issues who wish to continue living independently can use home care services.
This way they can stay in the comfort of their own home and get home help or arthritis care when it’s needed.
Care is required because they find it hard to perform necessary tasks like using the toilet, standing, or personal care
The alternative is moving to a care home, but care home costs can put financial strain on families.
If you’re wondering how to prevent falls in elderly loved ones, you should be aware of any mobility issues they have.
Falls are hugely risky and one of the leading causes of increasing mobility issues in elderly.
Alongside this, the trauma of falling and any injuries sustained can cause rapid decline in health that can lead to death.
Quality of life
Elderly adults living with mobility loss without adequate care have poorer quality of life.
This is because they may be unable to visit friends and family and continue independent activities that are important to them.
Becoming isolated in this way can lead to loneliness and emotional difficulties that stem from physical problems.
Which leads to reduced confidence and an eventual lack of social integration in the community.
Are you worried about a loved one?
How to cope with mobility issues in elderly
There are many reasons for mobility issues in elderly, all with different causes and solutions.
Loss of mobility can occur through an accident, health condition or simply old age, with each factor creating different needs.
Whatever the circumstances, there are people who can help your elderly loved one live an independent and fulfilling life.
Day to day care for mobility issues in elderly
If your elderly loved one has mobility issues, they may benefit from home care support that encourages movement or activity.
A trained elderly carer can help them at home to create a routine for movement and gradually build strength, mobility and confidence.
Whether completing exercises assigned by an occupational therapist or a lending hand with lifting and active tasks.
If their mobility is restricted significantly, a home help carer can provide essential support such as with housework.
If your loved one has complex mobility needs, or a complex condition that affects mobility, they may need more care.
Rather than having home care visits who come daily for an allocated time, live-in care provides round-the-clock support.
Live-in care is helpful for those who have constant care needs, including during the night.
Exercises to improve mobility for elderly
Exercise is essential if you want to counteract the causes of mobility issues in elderly.
If you already experience reduced mobility, try some exercise for arthritis for gentle movement that won’t cause inflammation.
If you’re looking to prevent issues in the future, consider these three exercises that reverse aging.
Care workers can support your loved one through an exercise plan as part of their daily routine.
How to get help for mobility issues?
If you have completed a care needs assessment and received a care plan, you can get help for your mobility needs.
You may be working with care professionals such as:
- Social workers who can carry out the points detailed in your care plan.
- Occupational therapists, who can suggest equipment or home adaptations to help you to stay active.
- Physiotherapists who provide exercises and help you learn to use walking aids.
- Care workers who provide care at home, from personal care, household help or companion care.
What you pay for care depends on your financial situation, which will be established during the care needs assessment.
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