Mobility issues can arise in the elderly for numerous reasons. From a loss of balance as a result of medications or a disease process, or due to injuries, loss of muscle tone, or chronic conditions such as arthritis. Loss of mobility can lead to loss of independence and an encroaching sense of isolation. Helping your parent to remain as active and independent for as long as possible is one of the greatest gifts you can offer them.
To the elderly, the progression to the use of a walker can symbolize further decline, one more aspect of life that age has laid its mark on. They see people using walkers or canes and say to themselves, “That’s not for me.” Rarely do humans see themselves as others see them. Though the body is 80, their mind may be just rounding their 60th year and the image of a stooped over elderly person pushing a walker does not enter the realm of their own self-image.
Physician or Physical Therapist
If they are hesitant to take your advice, consider making an appointment with their physical therapist or primary health care provider. They can come from a position of authority and probably have several stories they could share regarding the consequences of people that chose not to use a mobility device and paid the consequence.
Walkers can keep your parent’s independence longer by providing a tool to allow them to continue to remain mobile despite possible physical limitations.
Not becoming one of the statistics: Ninety-five percent of hip fractures are the result of falls. One-quarter of Americans over the age of 64 fall every year.
Increasing sense of empowerment allows them to partake in activities and social events they may have previously stayed away from due to mobility issues.
The Appropriate Mobility Device
According to a CDC study, between the years of 2001 and 2006, 47,000 seniors were treated in emergency rooms due to the improper use of canes and walkers. Mobility devices need to be fitted by a professional to ensure they are the correct height and weight and the appropriate model for your parent’s use. Some will be able to use walkers with wheels while others will not. A physical therapist will be able to show them the proper use techniques including walking and getting up or down from a seated position, giving them the greatest chance for success.
Home Health Care Provider
A home health care provider can assist your loved one with the daily activities of living while still helping them retain as much independence as possible. This type of care is called interactive—they provide assistance while still letting your parent do what they can within the framework of what is safe for them considering their physical and sometimes mental restrictions.