Mobility Decline in Old Age: Interventions to Try Right Now

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Youth makes us take many of life’s simple pleasures for granted: good eyesight, proper digestion, high energy levels, and even just taking a walk around the park on a sunny day.


The older we get, the more our mobility declines. Mobility, or the ability to move around, is what allows us to get in and out of chairs or to stand up after a fall without difficulty.

Mobility decline in old age is influenced by common ailments, such as muscle weakness, joint problems, pain, disease, and neurological conditions. Elderly mobility issues make simple tasks, such as shopping for groceries or washing the dishes, difficult and draining.

Research shows that, by the year 2050, there will be more elderly adults than young adults. Fortunately, scientific advances have been providing evidence-based treatments and prevention strategies to address these elderly mobility issues.

Here are some interventions to improve the lack of mobility in the elderly.

Getting “FIT”

Functional incidental training (FIT) utilizes low-intensity exercises and scheduled toileting to improve both continence and mobility. This is used to build strength and endurance among frail, incontinent nursing home residents.

Here are some benefits of FIT:

  • Specially designed for frail elderly. FIT was made with nursing home residents in mind, particularly those who are incontinent, have severe cognitive impairment, and are physically inactive.
  • Cost efficient. FIT is implemented by certified nurse assistants (CNAs) instead of high-cost professionals like physical therapists.
  • Integrates daily activities. Daily activities such as walking, standing, and transferring are part of the FIT program.
  • Distributes exercises. FIT spreads the exercises over the course of the day instead of combining everything into a one-hour session. This lessens the risk of injuries and is more manageable for nursing home staff.

FIT is implemented four times a day for five days a week. The training is conducted between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. every two hours. Each session takes approximately 20 minutes.

The procedure is as follows:

  1. CNAs bring incontinent elderly to the toilets and provide the necessary care, such as changing. Residents are encouraged to sit-to-stand. CNAs provide supervision, verbal instruction, and minimum physical assistance to encourage independence.
  2. Residents are encouraged to walk before and after incontinence care. If nonambulatory, residents are encouraged to wheel their chairs and perform sit-to-stands up to eight times.
  3. During one session out of four, residents are assisted with upper body resistance training (arm raises or curls) and/or range-of-motion exercises.
  4. Residents are given beverages before and after incontinence care to increase their daily intake of fluids.

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Mobility devices

Several types of mobility devices are available not just for the elderly but also for anyone with mobility problems.

For instance, rechargeable electric wheelchairs and battery-operated motorized wheelchairs are offered on the market. Both are great for those who are easily fatigued from manually moving the chair or for those suffering from joint pain. Ultra-lightweight electric wheelchairs are also available for those who have trouble transporting regular wheelchairs.

Here are some advantages brought by using mobility devices:

  • Mobility devices allow the elderly to move as they please without having to depend too much on somebody.
  • Ability to travel. Electric or motorized wheelchairs let the elderly travel distances without tiring them out.
  • Variety of seating options. Wheelchairs come with different seating options, allowing the elderly to customize their wheelchair to suit their needs and preferences.
  • Easy to operate. Modern wheelchairs have a joystick, which allows the elderly to accelerate and change direction. These mobility devices are specially designed to be user friendly.

Regardless of which mobility device your loved ones use, what’s important is the support you give them as they adjust to life in a wheelchair. Emotional support is as essential as physical support; the assurance that you are there for them gives them the strength they need to keep going.

Moving On with Mobility

Mobility decline shouldn’t have to impair the elderly’s lives. Finding the right mobility assistance for your elderly loved ones is easier than ever, thanks to the many options available today. With the proper support and assistance, older adults can continue living their lives to the fullest.

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