We all know that as people age, they find it harder to get around. There’s no one who’s as spritely at eighty-five as they were at thirty. But what causes seniors to lose their mobility, and how can this inevitable process be slowed? Once mobility is limited, what can seniors do to maintain their independence? In this comprehensive guide, we explain all that and more.
Why Mobility Decreases
The human body undergoes a number of changes as it ages, many of which ultimately lead to limited mobility. Muscle mass begins to decrease after the age of thirty, which in turn leads to reduced strength. Bone mass ceases to increase at age thirty, and decreases after forty. Joints, including the hips and the shoulders, lose their range of motion. All of these factors combine to make moving the body more difficult. In the later decades of life, this difficulty of movement can extend to a general lack of mobility, making it hard for seniors to get from one place to another, even inside their own homes.
How to Maintain Mobility
While there is no way to completely stave off aforementioned effects of aging, there is a lot seniors can do to help maintain their mobility and keep themselves on their feet. Research suggests that leading an active lifestyle grants people greater mobility as they age. Seniors who exercise regularly and spend less time sitting around are known to maintain increased mobility, while those who spend the majority of their lives in front of the television find it harder to get around.
Diet also plays a major role. Eating healthy foods gives the body the nutrients it needs to stay in the best shape possible. A proper diet also fends off obesity, which is a major factor in decreasing mobility. Protein is especially important for seniors, because it decreases the rate at which muscle mass withers. Vitamins C and D are also vital, as are the minerals calcium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.
How to Assist Seniors With Mobility Issues
Once seniors lose their mobility, they often need assistance getting around. There are a number of useful devices on the market, all of which help seniors maintain their sense of independence and take care of themselves.
Canes are probably as old as time, and for good reason. They are simple, but they are also remarkably effective at providing balance and maintaining stability. When a simple cane is not enough, a walker can provide even more stability and support additional body weight. Rollators are a type of wheeled walker that doesn’t have to be lifted, making it more convenient but also necessitating a greater level of mobility to avoid accidents.
When any type of walking becomes impossible, wheelchairs offer a way to get around while sitting down. To propel themselves in a wheelchair, sufficient upper body strength is necessary. When this strength is no longer present, a wheelchair can be substituted for a motorized scooter. These electric-powered devices provide mobility where there otherwise would be none, and there are many accessories for mobility scooters that provide convenience.
As people age, a certain loss of mobility is inevitable. All the same, there are steps people can take to keep active, and plenty of options for aiding mobility as strength and balance wane.