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Caring for a Senior with Limited Mobility: Tips & Advice

Caring for a Senior with Limited Mobility: Tips & Advice

Becoming a senior is a major life milestone that most people aspire to reach someday. There are many things to look forward to as a senior: retirement, free time, and of course, senior discounts. However, while being a senior is something to be proud of, there are some aspects that aren’t as great for some. As people age, our bones, muscles, and nerves grow weaker which can make moving more difficult. Here are some tips for caring for a senior with limited mobility.

caring for a senior with limited mobility

Care Tips for Seniors with Limited Mobility

Stretching is key

Stretching is important for everyone regardless of age. It should be done before undertaking any physical activity like exercise or going for a walk. The benefits of stretching include improving blood flow, warming up muscles, and loosening up stiff joints.

Additionally, exercise is still important for those with limited mobility. After adequate stretching, do a warm-up exercise like walking or jogging in place. Water aerobics is a great low-impact workout that improves strength, endurance, flexibility, and lung function. Plus, it can offer the opportunity to socialize with others when done as a group.

Massage therapy

Limited mobility due to conditions such as arthritis can be painful. Aside from taking the proper medications, massage can also help with reducing pain and restoring mobility. Massage has several benefits including reducing muscle tension, stress, anxiety, and improving circulation.

Seniors can be massaged by a therapist or be taught how to self-massage areas like their hands. Medium or moderate-level pressure should be used, as too light or too heavy can have unwanted effects. Additionally, massage may not be suitable for everyone especially those with sensitive skin, bruise easily, or have severe osteoporosis.

Make their home safer

Unfortunately, falls are a common and serious problem for the elderly. Limited mobility can increase the risk of falling and vice versa. “Fall-proofing” a house is one of the essential tips for caring for a senior with limited mobility.

First, handrails are a must. These should be installed in areas like the stairs, bathroom, shower, and hallways. Next, avoid leaving objects and clutter on the floor, especially things like balls or shoes. Reduce the risk of slipping and falling by installing rubberized mats in the shower and not placing loose floor rugs on wood or tile flooring. Lastly, keep areas well-lit to increase visibility.

Eat right, stay light

Obesity is a contributing factor to many diseases including heart disease and diabetes. The extra weight can also take its toll on bones and joints, especially as the body ages. On the other end, being underweight can decrease lifespan and quality of life. Malnutrition or undernutrition is usually the cause for a senior to be underweight.

A healthy diet for a senior should include all major food groups and the essential macro and micronutrients. Protein intake is especially important as people get older to maintain muscle mass. However, people with kidney problems may need to eat less protein. It is important to talk to your doctor about your diet, medications, and lifestyle changes.

caring for a senior with limited mobility

Be a pillar of support, not a crutch

Lastly, one of the best tips for caring for a senior with limited mobility is to be someone they can lean on, both literally and figuratively. Seniors, especially those living in nursing homes or away from their families, can feel isolated or trapped. Losing the ability to move freely and easily can worsen the feeling of being “old” and helpless. These contribute to things like anxiety and depression in the elderly.

To give seniors back their sense of control and empower them, let them do tasks while keeping an eye on them. Instead of immediately carrying an item for them, let them try to hold and carry it. If they are unable to continue, ask them if they need help or try to gently support their arm. What seems like a simple task for you may be a small victory for someone with limited mobility.

Key Takeaways

In summary, caring for a senior with limited mobility can be challenging but rewarding. Limited mobility should not mean lack of independence. Finding the right balance between self-sufficiency and external support are keys to providing care and empowering seniors.

Learn more about Healthy Aging here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Two questions can reveal mobility problems in seniors https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/two-questions-can-reveal-mobility-problems-in-seniors-201309186682 Accessed March 3, 2021

The impact of mobility limitations on health outcomes among older adults https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197457217302057 Accessed March 3, 2021

MOBILITY, DISABILITY, AND SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT IN OLDER ADULTS https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3683993/ Accessed March 3, 2021

Elderly Mobility and Independence https://www.elder.org/care-guides/elderly-mobility-and-independence/ Accessed March 3, 2021

Fall-Proofing Your Home https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/fall-proofing-your-home Accessed March 3, 2021

Benefits of Massage https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/treatment/complementary-therapies/natural-therapies/benefits-of-massage Accessed March 3, 2021

Excessive Body Weight in Older Adults: Concerns and Recommendations https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4510467/ Accessed March 3, 2021

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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated Mar 08
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