Getting older means adapting and adjusting to compensate for normal changes that happen after the age of 60. For many adults, mobility becomes a bit more challenging. You might notice it now, even if you are much younger than 60. You might feel your joints aching when the weather changes or notice that you need to stretch after each workout session so that you aren’t stiff or sore the next day.
Your older loved one is likely living with mobility challenges as well. Even small changes in mobility can drastically increase the risk of falling at home, becoming injured, or even anxiety which can lead to more sedentary behavior. Here’s what you need to know about mobility challenges.
Causes for Mobility Challenges
Mobility challenges can happen at any age. However, the risk for it increases with age due to chronic conditions like arthritis, neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, or cognitive decline caused by dementia. It’s important to note that mobility can be affected with large motor movements, like standing up from a chair, walking to the kitchen table, or getting in the car, as well as with smaller fine motor movements like writing down a grocery list, brushing teeth, or using a washcloth during the shower.
Some mobility challenges happen because of a decrease in range of motion. This might look like your dad having trouble picking up his foot to step over the bathtub wall to get into the shower. Other mobility challenges happen because of weakness. This might look like your mom dragging her left foot when she walks.
It’s easy to see how mobility challenges can quickly become a cause for concern. Unfortunately, many family caregivers miss seeing signs of decreased mobility in their loved one until an emergency situation or fall has occurred.
Mobility Challenge Dangers
Mobility challenges can cause certain movements to be painful, feel stiff, or feel unsteady. This can cause the person to either push through the discomfort, which can lead to injury or falling, or to stop the movement altogether, which can lead to sedentary behaviors, poor hygiene, or other complications.
Depending on your loved one’s condition, mobility challenges can lead to:
- Falling at home
- Slipping or tripping
- Ceasing the use of a certain limb, which can lead to muscle weakness and/or edema (swelling)
- Feeling anxious or fearful
- Choosing to stay on the couch or in bed instead of pursuing the daily routine they once enjoyed
Signs Your Loved One Would Benefit From a Caregiver
In addition to the mobility challenge scenarios we listed above, here are a few more signs that your loved one could benefit from a caregiver visiting the home:
- They don’t cook as much as they used to, perhaps eating a bowl of cereal or making a sandwich instead of cooking a hot meal.
- They are in their pajamas all day or are wearing the same clothes over and over again.
- They don’t have the energy to go to the grocery store.
- They are hesitant about driving and require more lead time to prepare to go somewhere.
- They are cleaning only one room at a time in the house.
How Home Care Can Help
Fortunately, having a consistent caregiver at home can help family members stay updated on mobility challenges. A caregiver has a trained and experienced eye to look for signs of pain during movement, decreased range of motion, or unsteady gait. CaringGivers caregivers document their experiences with their clients during and after each shift, which means we are able to notice slight changes thanks to their wise observations. This can help us keep family members informed and even instigate a call to the physician long before the mobility challenge becomes a major issue.
In addition to observation, having a caregiver can also help with:
- Giving pain medications on a regular schedule to ensure the senior is not in pain during movement
- Encouraging a walk multiple times during the day to reduce feelings of stiffness or soreness
- Cueing and assistance with prescribed range of motion exercises
- Assisting with tasks like housekeeping chores and meal preparation so that the senior can use their energy for other tasks throughout the day
If you’re concerned about your loved one’s mobility, CaringGivers is here to help. Schedule a free mobility assessment today.