One of the most difficult situations that can accompany a long life is a reduction in mobility as we get older. Mobility impairment may result from aging, but it can also be caused by an illness or chronic condition affecting muscles, joints, organs or balance. Regardless of the cause, senior mobility aids are critical in maintaining independence. The lack of mobility can impact our mood in several ways. Senior mobility issues can also place a burden on caregivers and loved ones.
However, as healthcare evolves, so do senior mobility aids. HonestMed offers a wide variety of senior mobility aids that are ideal for whatever level of assistance you need. This article offers information on different types of mobility assistance products, how they are used and how they can be of value to patients, loved ones and caregivers. Learn how senior mobility aids can give patients or loved ones the independence they need to more easily pursue their daily lives and the activities they love, while easing the burden on family and caregivers.
Senior Mobility Decline
Mobility impairment is a disability category that encompasses different types of physical disabilities. Impairment can involve upper or lower extremities and can range from mild to severe. Impairments can be caused by aging or it can be the result of congenital or acquired conditions. Examples of conditions include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and others.
Aging affects those who suffer from these illnesses as well as healthy individuals. That’s why senior mobility aids are so important. Seniors typically experience muscle and bone loss as they age. This can be exacerbated by ailments that seniors are more vulnerable to such as arthritis, osteoporosis, heart and pulmonary disease, balance problems, and obesity.
Each of these conditions can impact mobility and keep seniors from enjoying their independence. Exercising and eating healthy foods are vitally important, but falls, fractures and surgical procedures such as joint replacement can cause temporary loss of mobility for many seniors. Mobility impairment can often be mitigated with senior mobility aids such as canes, walkers, rollators or in some cases, wheelchairs.
Senior Mobility Aids
Whether mobility issues are temporary or long-term, there are senior mobility aids that are ideal for any stage of impairment or recovery from surgery or illness. The first step in finding the right mobility aid for your condition is to ask your healthcare provider. The following are descriptions of typical senior mobility aids and their uses:
As a senior mobility aid, canes are most appropriate for mild arthritis pain of the knee or hip and mild balance problems. Canes can support 25% of your body weight. As with any senior mobility aid, you should always rely on your healthcare provider to ensure you are getting the best solution for your situation. HonestMed offers a variety of canes and cane accessories to assist you. The following are some tips on choosing the right cane:
- Pick a cane with a non-skid rubber tip.
- If you have pain on your hand or wrist, try a cane with curved or rounded handles that help you maintain balance while easing stress on your hand and wrist.
- Keep in mind that canes are ideal for mild pain and balance issues but they are not as stable as walkers.
- Choosing between single tip or quad tip? Quad-tip canes offer more balance aid.
- Try a cane with a small seat attached if you’re looking for added comfort.
- Offset canes may reduce the amount of stress for seniors with weak hands or wrists.
- For the occasional user, the convenience of a folding cane might be a great option.
- Get the proper fit with your cane. For most people, the length of the cane should be within an inch of half your height. So, if you are six feet tall, your cane should be approximately three feet long. Fortunately, most canes are adjustable so you can easily get the fit you need.
Walkers and Rollators
When canes don’t offer enough support, senior mobility aids in the form of walkers or rollators are your best choice. They are great for short-term use after surgery, or long-term use for chronic mobility issues. Walkers have sturdy but lightweight aluminum construction and many are foldable. This makes it easy to store them when traveling or when they’re not in use. Rollators describe a type of walker that has a seat, wheels on all the legs and hand brakes – some rollators have four legs and some three. As with canes, walkers and rollators are usually adjustable so it’s easy to set up the right height. HonestMed offers many types of walkers, rollators and accessories.
There are different types of walkers:
- Standard walkers, which are sometimes referred to as pickup walkers, have four rubber-tipped legs with no wheels. A pickup walker requires more lift by the person after a few steps of walking, but it provides the most stability.
- Two-wheeled walkers have wheels on the front two legs, making it able to support more weight and move forward more easily. It may also be easier to stand up straighter using this type of walker, which will aid posture.
- Three-and four-wheel walkers or rollators have wheels on all three or four legs and they come with handbrakes. The front wheels typically swivel, to make turning easier. Most of them come with a seat that has a storage basket underneath. Rollators have various designs for indoor use and more heavy-duty models for outdoor use.
- Knee walkers are specifically designed for short-term healing of a leg or ankle injury or surgery. The knee of the recovering leg rests on a platform, while the injured person pushes the walker with the healthy leg.
Walker or rollator, which is right for me?
You should consult your healthcare professional before making such a decision. However, if your balance is good but you require rest breaks often with a place to sit, a rollator is a good senior mobility aid. Rollators are also a sensible choice for those who have weak arms or a weak grip. If you have balance problems, you should stick with a pickup walker or a walker with two wheels. Here are some tips for choosing walkers and rollators as well as tips for using them effectively:
- Select a walker that fits your height. To get the appropriate height, relax your arms and stand in the walker. Make sure the crease on the inside of your wrist where your hand is attached lines up with the top of the hand grip on your walker.
- As you walk, keep your shoulders relaxed. When you grip the walker, your elbows should be slightly bent – approximately 15 degrees.
- To move forward, set the walker about one step ahead and move forward, putting your weight on the walker. Remember to stand up as straight as possible.
- When you walk using this senior mobility aid, move the walker ahead and then follow with your stronger leg first, then bring your other leg forward. Try to keep the walker as still as possible while you position yourself before walking.
- When walking, standup straight to help prevent back and neck strain. Remember to step into the walker rather than staying behind it. Also, make sure not to push the walker too far ahead of you. Always take things slowly – especially in the beginning.
- If you use a rollator, be sure to use the hand brakes as needed.
- Be careful on slippery and uneven surfaces and watch for objects on the ground.
- It’s advisable to wear low-heeled shoes when using a walker or rollator.
Today, senior mobile aids such as walkers come with many accessories that enhance independence and make the walker a better senior mobility aid. The following is a list of accessories to increase the functionality and independence your walker provides:
- Most walkers today fold for easy storage and on-the-go use. HonestMed offers many different models of folding walkers.
- Trays that attach to your walker are convenient, allowing you to carry food, drinks or other items while using your walker.
- Bags or pouches that attach to your walker put your phone, wallet and other personal items at your fingertips. There are many designs and sizes available depending on your needs.
- Baskets that connect to the front of your walker can mean more independence and flexibility when you go shopping.
- Tennis ball glides placed on the back two legs of your two-wheeled walker can help you move more smoothly over carpet and other textured surfaces. You can also use hard plastic glides that have similar features. Be sure to use tennis ball glides specifically designed for walkers, or hard plastic glides. Regular tennis balls may make your walker unstable.
Crutches are most often used on a temporary basis when you need to keep your weight entirely off a lower extremity because of a fall, a sprain, a broken limb or after major surgery. It’s important to let a healthcare professional help you choose the right fit for crutches because it’s based on your height. HonestMed offers a variety of senior mobility aids including crutches and crutch supplies. Here are some tips for fitting and using crutches safely:
- Crutches should be under your armpits at the right height to support your weight, but not so high as to impede circulation in your arms.
- Your arms should hang naturally when the crutches are under your armpit with at least two inches between your armpit and the top of the crutch.
- You should be able to grasp the hand support while keeping your arms slightly bent.
- When you walk, move both crutches forward at the same time, placing your weight on the hand grips and swinging your uninjured leg forward to land in between the crutches.
- Sit by holding both crutches in one hand and grasping the chair with your other hand to keep your balance.
- Going upstairs, you should use both crutches but also grab the handrail as needed for added support. When going downstairs, use one crutch while holding the handrail and have someone hold your other crutch.
- Give yourself extra time to get around to places safely as crutches will slow you down a bit.
Some congenital conditions require wheelchairs from early childhood. Many adults require them as illnesses make mobility more difficult. For seniors, deciding on a wheelchair as your senior mobility aid often occurs as aging or diseases progress, and walkers no longer provide adequate support. HonestMed offers wheelchairs and accessories to enhance independence.
There are three types of wheelchairs:
- Manual wheelchairs: A manual wheelchair is a senior mobility aid without power controls. Typically, manual wheelchairs have round bars surrounding the wheels that the user pushes to move the wheelchair. For seniors that have the strength to propel a wheelchair by themselves, this would be the ideal choice because it is lightweight, relatively inexpensive and offers easy maintenance. Manual wheelchairs also have handles in the back so someone else can push the user. In addition to standard models, HonestMed offers models made for bariatric patients and ones that are extra lightweight or have a reclining feature.
- Power wheelchairs: Seniors who lack the motor function or cardiovascular strength to power a manual wheelchair can use a power or electric wheelchair. As the name implies, this type of wheelchair operates with a battery. The controls allow you to start, stop, move forward, turn, or back up. They are much heavier than manual wheelchairs and more complex to maintain. However, they are ideal for users that lack the strength to manually power a wheelchair.
- Transport wheelchairs: These wheelchairs are narrow and lightweight with smaller wheels. They are designed to be pushed by a caregiver because they have small wheels that can’t be used by the patient to propel himself. Like a rollator, they are easy to maneuver around corners and in smaller spaces. Transport wheelchairs are most often used in hospitals and other caregiving settings to move patients from one point to another.
HonestMed Has the Senior Mobility Aids You Need
Whether you are experiencing mobility issues because of your age or age-related illness, or you are recovering from an injury or surgery, maintaining mobility is crucial for your or your loved ones’ independence. HonestMed offers a variety of affordable senior mobility aids designed to help you independently pursue your necessary daily tasks as well as the activities you love. Learn more by speaking to an Honest Care Specialist at (833) 933-2323. We’re here to provide you with product knowledge, support, and expertise to ensure you get the right products for your unique needs and budget. Check out our other published articles on caregiving and more!