Staying Healthy with Mobility Loss
Mobility loss is the most common disability among older adults. Many seniors won’t experience major mobility loss until after 85, but little impairments start creeping into life much earlier. The slower pace walking upstairs, the achy hips while standing at the stove, the pain in your knees when giving grandkids a bath — these minor mobility issues have a big impact on quality of life for adults in their 60s and 70s. Mobility loss might slow you down, but it shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want. Here’s how seniors can overcome mobility loss in daily life.
Mobility loss takes a toll on mental health. For one, seniors with mobility loss tend to isolate. If you’re in pain, worried about falling, or self-conscious about not keeping up with friends, you’re more likely to stay in. However, social isolation has serious consequences for mental health.
Mobility impairments also tend to come with chronic pain. Up to half of community-residing seniors have chronic pain, a Place for Mom reports. Chronic pain contributes to depression and anxiety and furthers social isolation.
Self-care targeting mental health helps you cope with the physical and mental pain of mobility impairment. Gentle exercise, meditation, and enjoying the company of friends are ways to strengthen mental wellness in the face of mobility loss.
Removing items from the home can also help improve mobility, as a cleaner, sparsely decorated home provides more room to move around. Doing so can also provide space to set up a small home gym, giving you a place to build muscles and improve stability. Getting rid of furniture and cherished belongings can prove difficult for many people, which is why a self-storage unit can ease the process, as it provides a place to stash belongings without giving them away or throwing them out. However, it’s important to keep the monthly cost within your budget; for example, the average price for a 10-by-10 unit in San Antonio is $83.41 per month.
After you declutter, don’t shy away from hiring help to clean your home. Doing it yourself can cause stress, as well as put a strain on your physical health. The same can be said for any chores or home maintenance work that can be difficult for you to accomplish on your own, such as lawn mowing or landscaping. You can ease the burden of completing these tasks by hiring a professional service. In San Antonio, the average cost of hiring a maid service is $109 - $225.
Everyone knows home-cooked meals are the healthiest, but standing on a hard kitchen floor is tough if you have hip or knee problems, not to mention the challenge of grocery shopping.
Seniors with mobility issues should take advantage of grocery delivery services (some businesses charge between $6.95 and $9.95 for deliveries) or curbside pickup at local supermarkets. In the kitchen, use an anti-fatigue mat to provide a cushion while standing. If sitting is more comfortable, sit to prep ingredients and only stand while using the stovetop. Use the days you’re feeling good to prep healthy meals for the days you aren’t.
What you shouldn’t do? For starters, don’t turn to unhealthy convenience foods that fill you up without offering nutritional value. Proper nutrition is necessary for good physical and mental health. In fact, there’s a growing body of research that shows what you eat even affects your mood. Eating nutritious foods and including probiotics in your diet helps your body produce mood-boosting neurotransmitters, while poor gut health contributes to depression — yet another reason to make the effort to eat well!
Mobility loss comes with inherent risk. It’s not fun to admit it, but when you’re unsteady on your feet and tire easily, you’re more likely to fall and hurt yourself. Getting help quickly after a fall means a faster recovery, so install a medical alert system (Alert1, for example, starts at $19.95 per month) in your home. You hope you won’t need it, but you’ll be glad to have it if you do.
There are more fun ways technology can help, too. Smart home tech might seem like Millennials’ domain, but it’s an amazing tool for home accessibility. When you can turn on the lights, adjust the thermostat, and answer the door from your phone, life gets a lot easier.
As far as preventing further mobility loss as you age, the principle is easy: exercise, and lots of it. Unfortunately, many of us struggle to put that to practice, especially as we grow older and our bodies feel less comfortable. But if you don’t use it, you will lose it! Stay active at every stage of life — the senior years included — and you’ll benefit in more ways than you can imagine.
Image via Unsplash
Article written by: Jason Lewis with www.strongwell.org
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Article for senior care and mobility loss; written by Jason Lewis with www.strongwell.org
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