Mobility Issues and Your Aging Parent
Mobility refers to a person’s ability to move in the world. Several factors can contribute to mobility problems; these include lack of balance, weakness, pain, joint dysfunction, and visual impairment along with mental disturbances. These can in turn lead to difficulty walking, getting up from chairs or a bed, trouble navigating into the shower or bath as well as going up or down stairs. Fear of falling can keep an otherwise social senior inactive. Helping your parent remain as mobile as possible is one of the biggest gifts you can share in helping them lead a happy, productive life as they age.
How to Help
- Determine the cause of the loss of mobility. To this end, ensure they are getting regular exams for their eyes and ears. Their primary care physician or physical therapist should be able to assist in determining the issue.
- Be aware of possible medication interactions and side-effects that can lead to symptoms that promote diminished mobility. Bring a list of all medications your parent is taking, including supplements and over-the-counter medications, to their pharmacist. They will be able to recommend changes in prescriptions or related doses that may help with dizziness.
- Ensure a safe environment by taking a good look at their home. Make sure all pathways are cleared of obstructions or tripping hazards. Clear any clutter. Install good sensor lighting in strategic locations. Place grab bars in areas such as the shower and by the toilet. Provide raised seating for toilet seats and chairs as needed.
- Promote strength and balance by encouraging exercise. This may include going out on daily walks or trips to the senior center or local Y for classes such as water aerobics, yoga or Tai chi. Check with their doctor before starting an exercise program and make sure they wear good, sturdy, non-slip walking shoes.
- Find activities that excite your parent and motivate them to go out into the world. These may include local programs and events geared for seniors that can be found at museums, gardens and other public places. Classes in computer, various crafts such as pottery, language, creative writing and nutrition are often offered at the local senor community center, along with evenings of shared meals.
- Obtain the services of an elder care provider. These professionals can accompany your parent on walks, provide transportation and companionship to social events and classes, and assist them should a mobility issue arise. They can provide assistance with the daily activities of living that may become difficult as your parent’s mobility declines.