One in every five American adults live with a disability, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Limited mobility is the most common among seniors and for many, this includes difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
Adjusting to limited mobility can be frustrating for anyone, especially seniors who take pride in their independence. Fortunately, there are several important things both families and caregivers can do to help a loved one adjust to limited mobility.
Fall Hazard Identification and Prevention
Every home has hidden hazards that are revealed as mobility decreases for seniors. Falls are the number one cause of injuries for seniors age 65 and older. More than 70-percent of falls occur in the home.
According to the Journal of Injury and Violence Research, “Frequent fall injuries occurred at the transition between carpet/rug and non-carpet/rug, on wet carpets or rugs, and while hurrying to the bathroom.”
Start minimizing fall hazards by checking all the carpets and throw rugs in the home. Carpets with loose edgings can be trip hazards and any loose throw/area rug, especially on a hardwood floor is a recipe for disaster – these are easy to trip on and can slide causing lost balance. Other hazards to look for include:
- Repair any wobbly or unsteady furniture if commonly gripped for support
- Electrical cords: move out of traffic areas and never place under rugs
- Obstructed areas: create clear walkways between rooms and around furniture
- Floor clutter: remove newspapers, magazines/books, shoes from walkways/stairs
- Dimly lit rooms: easy-to-use light switches and brightly lit spaces decrease the risk for falls
The bathroom is the one room in the house where a fall is most likely to result in injury, according to the CDC.
Consider adding grab bars and toilet support rails into each of the home’s bathrooms, as well as a walk-in shower or walk-in bathtub with grab bars for easier, safer bathing. A powered bath with a lift chair may be the ideal solution to accommodate mobility issues.
Appropriate Footwear is Essential
The right footwear can help a senior with limited mobility maintain balance better and reduce the risk for falling.
Studies have determined that walking barefoot or in socks within the home increases the risk for fall. At home, a good pair of comfortable slippers with a sturdy, non-slip sole is essential for stability when moving about.
A thinner, hard-soled shoe is better for outdoor walking than soft-soled shoes. The sole should have tread and if opting for a low heel, the heel also needs tread.
Don’t forget about footwear dressing aids. Your senior may benefit from using a long-handle shoe horn or an automatic shoe remover if bending over is difficult. Several styles of sock aids also are available to help with limited mobility. Most shoes also can be adapted to help with limited mobility by adding elastic laces, shoe buttons and lace locks.
Seniors adapting to limited mobility may avoid going out, but getting outdoors and enjoying time with friends and family is better for overall health, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Offer to take your senior to meet a friend for lunch or simply go to the park for a leisurely stroll or to spend some time outside enjoying nature.
Spending time with friends and family plus leaving the home to engage in simple activities is a mood booster and can be very beneficial for seniors adapting to limited mobility.