We are an aging population, and this isn’t a new fact. According to An Aging world: 2020 by the United States Census Bureau, 16.9% of the people in the US were above 65 years of age in 2020. By 2050, this number is expected to rise by 5%. Yet, although we are living longer lives, the doubt of frailty and dependence overshadows the thought of aging in place.
Why is mobility crucial to confident living?
The answer to this question lies in the National Institute on Aging study, which states that “People who have lost physical function may face difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, dressing, or using the bathroom without aid.”
Furthermore, according to studies, one in five older adults struggles with mobility. To add fuel to the fire, only 10% of the homes in the USA are aging-ready. As a result, the need for mobility devices has grown significantly among the elderly. They help seniors perform routine tasks with ease and independence, thus boosting their confidence and mental health.
Mobility aids for seniors
Mobility is crucial, especially for those seniors who choose to age in place. Numerous mobility aids—from simple walking canes, bed step stools to sophisticated stairlifts, cater to the different needs of these individuals. Here’s how you can choose the mobility device best suited to you.
- Consult your doctor to know which mobility device is suitable for your needs.
- Your medical insurance may or may not cover the purchase of mobility aids. Hence, it is best to check the rules and plan accordingly to avoid a rude financial setback.
- Before buying or renting a device, consider factors like foldability for easy transport or higher weight-bearing capacity for larger people, comfort, and ease of use.
This article aims to inform you about the most popular mobility aids, how they can help, and how much you may have to spend on them.
A walking cane benefits seniors who are mobile but need additional support for balance and stability. In addition, a cane can reduce the load on your lower body by almost 25%.
Walking canes come in various types.
- Standard canes have one point of contact with the ground.
- Quad canes have a wider base and four points of contact with the ground. As a result, they are self-standing and more stable than standard canes.
- Folding canes are very convenient to fold and carry. Some even come with a foldable seat to take a rest.
Bed step stool
Step stools are vital for seniors who struggle with mobility. Even simple tasks like getting in and out of bed can be difficult due to reduced balance and spatial awareness due to age or surgery. A suitable bed step stool for the elderly can reduce the chances of falls and injury while getting in and out of bed.
Step stools for beds come in various types.
- One-piece step stools are a single solid piece and don’t move or change shape.
- Foldable and collapsible stools are portable and can be put away when not needed.
- Some stools come with greater stability, such as handles and grab bars for extra support.
The most crucial factors to consider while using a step stool are stability, non-slip surface, height adjustment, and load-bearing capacity.
Mobility scooters are electric-powered personal vehicles. Seniors who can’t walk long distances and still wish to stay independent can use mobility scooters to get around town. They are easy to operate for elders who cannot use wheelchairs due to limited arm and shoulder movement. Seniors should go for a ‘test ride’ before buying a mobility scooter to see if it is comfortable and easy to use.
Also known as a wheeled walker, a rollator has 3 or 4 large wheels, handlebars, brakes, and a built-in seat that allows users to stop and rest. Most rollators come with accessories like storage baskets. Some have height adjustment, greater weight capacity (bariatric), foldability, and brakes.
People with severe disabilities need a wheelchair for mobility. It is also used by seniors who cannot place their full body weight on their lower body. Wheelchairs are of various types. For example, manual wheelchairs are most common and require upper body strength to move the wheels and get from one place to another, while electric wheelchairs are suited for those having minimal mobility in the arms and upper body as well. Wheelchairs come in lightweight, heavy-duty for larger people, and are foldable for portability.
Knee scooters or knee walkers are ideal for individuals with any below-the-knee injury. However, one can use it, given a doctor recommends it. It allows you to rest one leg on a comfortable padded seat while the other can propel the walker. Knee scooters are a modern-day alternative to crutches and ease mobility by reducing the physical exertion on the upper body due to crutches.
Stairlifts are special chairs attached to a fixed track close to the stair rails either indoors or outdoors. These come motorized with electricity, battery back-up or both, and carry people up and down the stairs. You can order a customized stairlift to suit your living space and control the movement using a joystick, remote control, or a power button.
Independent senior living is not as daunting as it seems. New technology and innovations have made senior mobility safer and more accessible. What’s most important is to stay active for a healthy mind and body. Moreover, seek medical advice before investing in any mobility device. So, keep moving and take that first step to health.