Elderly Mobility Options Every Family Should Know
Today, older Americans are living more full and vibrant lives than ever before. With access to transportation, mental health awareness, and advances in health care, older adults can expect to thoroughly enjoy the golden years of their lives.
But elderly people often have different needs as well. They may be at greater risk of falls and may experience limited mobility that requires walking aids, physical therapy, vehicle assistance, and more.
In order to help your loved ones maintain their quality of life, we recommend researching mobility aids. As they age and require more mobility assistance, United Access is here as your trusted resource.
The Elderly Mobility Scale (EMS)
To determine what mobility problems your family member may be facing, turn to the Elderly Mobility Scale, a mobility assessment developed especially for elderly people. While it’s mostly used for elderly patients in hospital settings, understanding the basics of your family member’s limited mobility can guide the creation of a mobility aid plan.
There are seven tasks on the EMS: lying to sitting, sitting to lying, sitting to standing, standing, gait (walking), timed walk, and functional reach. Each task is scored based on the person’s ability to complete the task, with a total score of 20.
Scores under 10 indicate the person’s dependence on a caregiver’s assistance with safe mobility and basic activities of daily living (ADLs). Middling scores mean the person is on the edge of safe mobility and requiring greater assistance, while scores over 14 indicate the individual is capable of maintaining safe, functional independence.
Depending on your loved one’s abilities, there are a variety of mobility-related resources and options for them, including…
Physical therapy is often the first stop for individuals experiencing mobility disability. Mobility issues can impact the whole body, leading to further medical conditions and mental health problems. Helping a person maintain as much independence as possible is key to longevity.
Many physical therapists specialize in mobility issues in older adults and can work with your family member to achieve a level of physical activity that is comfortable, safe, and beneficial to them.
Regardless of your loved one’s needs or abilities, it’s recommended you speak with a healthcare provider as soon as you notice symptoms of mobility issues.
Walking Aids and Wheelchairs
Mobility issues can prevent older people from walking when, where, and how they want to. Depending on their needs, you may want to look into the following options.
- Cane: A cane could be considered an entry-level walking aid. If your loved one can still get up and move around on their own, but they require some support, this is a great transition from full mobility to assisted mobility.
- Walker: There are many different kinds of walkers, which are walking aids that typically have four feet that glide along the floor, providing even more support.
- Scooter: An electric scooter is an excellent option for older persons who can still walk short distances but may need more support for long distances.
- Wheelchair: Manual and electric wheelchair manufacturers are constantly innovating. No matter your loved one’s needs, there are plenty of wheelchair options for them.
Another major issue with mobility issues is something called community mobility. This refers to how often and how easily a person can move around in and interact with their community. Basic activities, like running errands, going grocery shopping, or even visiting friends can become nearly impossible for older people in a wheelchair if they don’t have an appropriate vehicle.
One of the most popular options for these vehicles is a wheelchair van conversion. Van conversions allow total customization of a van or SUV that you already own, making them a cost-effective solution for private transportation. United Access can add a wide range of customizable features to your vehicle, such as:
- Wheelchair ramps
- Wheelchair lifts
- Rear entry
- Movable seats
- Removable seats
- Raised roof for more headroom
- Vehicle hand controls, to operate the vehicle without feet