As each birthday passes, the undeniable feeling of stiffness seems to increase each year. Getting out of bed or up from a chair seems a little harder than it did the day before. Taking long car rides usually results in aching joints and may require a few extra minutes to “get going” before taking that first step. Sure, some days are better than others, but decreased mobility happens to most of us as we age. Natural changes in the body combined with other medical conditions results in limited mobility.
Mobility and Aging
Mobility means having the ability to move freely in one’s environment without restriction. As we age, many changes take place. Bone, joint and muscle changes make it difficult to get around. Bone density decreases, joints get stiff, cartilage wears away and calcifications occur. When a disease progression is present, additional changes take place, further limiting our ability to get around. Falls and fractures can occur as a result of decreased mobility, which can then spiral into many more serious complications.
The lack of physical activity, obesity, decreased strength, poor balance and a variety of chronic diseases decreases our mobility. A vicious cycle can result. Decreased mobility promotes further inability to get around, resulting in social isolation, depression and withdrawal.
Get an Evaluation
This sad state of affairs does not have to be the case. There are many ways to ensure decreased mobility does not occur. Start out by asking a doctor to administer a simple mobility test.
The Get Up and Go Test is a good example of a test a physician might administer to assess mobility. To see what the assessment looks like, click here.
During this simple assessment, the doctor asks the patient to carry out five commands:
- Get up from the chair
- Walk ten feet
- Turn around
- Walk back to the chair
- Turn and be seated
While these tasks may sound simple, someone with impaired physical mobility could experience quite a challenge. The doctor will look at how long it takes to complete these activities. He/she will also assess sitting and standing balance, ability to turn without staggering and stability while walking.
Tips for Improving Mobility
The best way to stay mobile is to be mobile. The old adage, “use it or lose it” holds true! Daily physical activity helps to achieve this goal.
- Walking is the best way to keep the body moving. If you do not have time to go for a walk, then incorporate walking into your daily routine while out and about.
- Weight bearing exercise will help to increase muscle mass, assisting with strength. Structured or unstructured exercise can be done at home or in a group setting. Exercising with others tends to provide motivation to start moving and stay in moving.
Healthy aging depends on mobility. The more we move, the easier it is to move. It is that simple.
To learn more about increasing mobility and preventing illness in the elderly, contact our caring professionals at Beacon of Life, a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. Click here or give us a call at 732- 592-3400.