Coping with age related mobility loss

Aged related mobility loss is a common occurrence amongst older adults. In this article, we define aged related mobility loss, and provide several tools and strategies for reducing risks associated with mobility problems. We also list some ideas for physical activity that will help promote healthy aging.


Explaining aged related mobility loss

Many people experience mobility loss as they age. Mobility loss can be defined as the partial or complete loss of the ability to perform the everyday tasks associated with daily life, such as getting out of bed, on and off of the toilet and moving from room to room at home.

Mobility loss is seen as a reduction of a person’s capacity to move freely, including through the loss of a degree of physical function. This, in turn, reduces a person’s ability to remain independent. Mobility problems can impact in many areas of life and cause concern for family and friends.

Healthy aging and mobility disability

Mobility loss in old age can lead to muscle weakness and is associated with overall functional decline. People who live a sedentary lifestyle are at an increased risk of experiencing age related mobility loss. Age related mobility loss can be related to other conditions and health problems, such as:

  • cognitive decline and memory loss

  • poor eyesight

  • arthritis or other muscular skeletal conditions

  • injury

  • heart disease, cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure.

  • other chronic diseases

People with disability can also face mobility problems. The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care has published some recommendations for physical activity for people with a disability. They have found only about a quarter of people with a disability get enough physical activity. 

Healthy aging strategies and tips

The best preventative activity is a regular exercise program, specifically focused on maintaining mobility and building up physical function. Even if you have not undertaken regular exercise, sports, or activities in the past, there is still time to start with some basic and gentle exercises. Popular physical activity options for older adults include:

  • chair based exercise

  • tai chi

  • walking netball

  • nature walks with family members

  • swimming

  • aqua aerobics

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, ensuring quality sleep and healthy eating can also reduce the risk of mobility loss.

Fun hobbies for our aging population

Other creative activities also bring benefits and require the use of fine motor skills rather than gross motor skills. Knitting, crocheting, painting and drawing are all great activities that keep your fingers working and your mind active.

Board games and puzzles are also healthy ways to keep you thinking and provide a way to connect and share with others. It pays to engage in activities you enjoy and which improve your quality of life.

Challenges for older people with physical disability

Older adults who also have a pre-existing physical disability may also experience age related mobility loss, unrelated to their disability. In these cases, physical therapy can be a great way to reduce pain, and maintaining mobility.

The World Health Organisation has published information about health promotion and prevention strategies for healthy ageing.

Mobility aids for older people

There are also many varieties of walking aids on the market, including walking frames, crutches and walking sticks. Mobility aids also include wheelchairs and scooters, which can be useful for helping older adults with limited mobility be able to get around in their community.

Funding for older people to obtain mobility aids may be available – visit the My Aged Care website to learn more.

Home modifications for safety and mobility

Assistive devices and home modifications include:

  • personal alarm systems, some of which feature fall detection capabilities

  • grab rails

  • stair lifts

  • stair and step lowering

  • ramps

  • modified taps and switches

Read more on this topic in our recent blog on Elderly safety home modifications.

Improving bathroom safety

Most falls and injuries at home occur in the bathroom. To make the bathroom safer for an elderly person consider:

  • using non slip mats on the floor

  • installing grab rails near the shower

  • removing the bath and instead installing a walk in shower

  • using a shower chair to sit on

  • using a raised toilet seat

  • having some assistance getting into and out of the bath or shower

Falls prevention tips for older adults

It is an unfortunate fact that older bones break more easily than the bones of young people. Falls are common and can cause ongoing complications and medical concerns. An older adult with broken bones as a result of a fall may have to spend several months restricted to bed rest. This extended period of being unable to be physically active can have a damaging effect on an older adult’s wellbeing and mental health.

The best way to reduce the risk of falls is to understand the risks and seek to remove as many risk factors as possible.

An occupational therapist can be arranged to conduct an audit or assessment of the home, to help identify fall hazards and suggest ways to reduce the risk of falls or injury.

Fall recovery for people with mobility problems

When an older person does experience a fall, even if they are not seriously hurt, they may be fearful of falling again. This can lead to a loss of confidence in getting out and about, and a tendency to reduce their levels of physical activity.

It is important that older adults keep participating in physical exercise and are aware of what they should do in the event they do have a fall.

Coping with changes

Many of us find change difficult. As an older adult experiences the changes associated with limited mobility, they may go through a range of emotions. Mobility loss can even impact mental health. However, older adults can be supported in many ways to respond to and address mobility loss.

Driving tests and safety

Often, older people with a mobility disability will also need to consider handing in their driver’s license and stopping driving. Driving can be risky for people who don’t have the strength to handle a car, and where reflexes might be slowed.

There are many local transport and bus shuttle services for older adults, so don’t let not driving keep you stuck at home.

Nursed Care for help at home

Nursed Care is a community service provider that delivers services to older people.

We assist older people in achieving a high quality of life and living comfortably and independently at home. Our services include:

  • domestic assistance, with difficult jobs like hanging laundry and mopping floors

  • home maintenance, to install grab rails and other safety devices

  • health care and personal care to reduce the risk of falls in the bathroom

  • medication management support to ensure you are healthy and active

Nursed Care for leisure and lifestyle support

Nursed Care can help you not only at home but also out in the community. We provide many services that can reduce social isolation and improve overall well being for older adults. Our friendly and qualified staff can take you shopping or on outings to reduce social isolation.

We can help you connect with local fitness, health and well being programs you enjoy, and even provide transport so you can participate.

Contact Nursed Care

There is a proven link between social isolation and poor physical health. You will feel like our staff members are your younger friends! We will help you enjoy your social life and get our and about to experience all that life has to offer.

We are passionate about healthy and supporting older adults to achieve their physical activity goals. Contact Nursed Care to discover how we can support you!

Related questions

A person can note depressive symptoms as they lose mobility they once had. The onset of mobility problems in later life and a reduction in independence can leave a person feeling frustrated, angry or discouraged.

Experiencing chronic pain can also be a contributing factor to depression and anxiety in the elderly. Mental health care, such as counselling, therapy or support groups can all make a differences.

It is important that older people with a mobility disability and mental health conditions seek support from their primary care providers, local healthcare provider or GP. A referral to a geriatric psychiatry service can then be made by the healthcare provider.

There are lots of ways that older adults can build strength and improve muscle tone. Many local gyms and community centres offer special classes just for older people.

Other types of physical activity to improve strength and enhance quality of life include:

  • resistance and weight training to strengthen muscles

  • walking programs and groups, to stay healthy and active

  • balance training or balance exercises

Support workers who have qualifications and experience deserve fair pay for providing quality services to an NDIS participant. Companies that are too cheap may not be paying their staff fairly or have all of the correct documents and statements of compliance.

Our top tips for older adults dealing with reduced mobility are:

  • keep up as much physical activity as you can

  • find hobbies and interests that encourage physical activity

  • monitor and take care of your mental health

  • purchase and use assistive devices

  • know the risk factors and eliminate any and fall hazards from your living environment

  • seek advice and support from an occupational therapist

Occupational therapists and allied physical therapists often work out of local public health services. If you are looking for a local occupational therapist consider:

  • discussing occupational therapy needs with you GP or healthcare provider

  • asking friends and family for referrals

  • doing an internet search for occupational therapy services

Need qualified care?

At Nursed, we offer a full range of care and disability support services, assisting you to live the life you want to live. Contact us today.

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Our friendly staff are eager to help you live your best life. Whether you need new accommodation, supports, home modifications or simply want to join our day programs we’ll ensure you’re looked after. 

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