Mobility and Mental Health

The growing percentage of aging adults is staggering. By 2030, one in every six people, worldwide, will be over the age of 60. As countries try to cope with the reality of an aging populace, there are realities closer to home that have lasting consequences. One such reality is mobility.

Mobility is such an important aspect of our daily lives, and for those of us who don’t have any problems with it, we often take it for granted. However, with seniors who are losing their mobility, their mental health is often affected.

To start, what is mobility loss? Forbes Health states that: “Mobility loss impacts a person’s ability to move freely or independently. This can occur from a physical disability, a chronic musculoskeletal condition, weakness, a traumatic injury, or from cognitive and physical limitations that make it unsafe or impossible for a person to maintain an independent lifestyle.”

Why is mobility loss such a problem? Because it can create even more problems down the line! “Physical mobility loss creates numerous challenges in completing everyday tasks, known as activities of daily living (ADLs), which include walking, eating, dressing, bathing and/or showering, using the bathroom and getting in and out of bed.” (Forbes Health)

This is a very real problem, that affects millions of people. Mobility loss means that more care needs to be given to the person, in the form of a caregiver or possibility even moving them into a long-term facility. The loss of independence can also lead to mental health problems.

A loss of mobility can lead to social isolation and loneliness. The recent pandemic let us all know how hard it is to feel isolated all the time. Isolation has a huge impact on mental health, and can lead to depression.

A loss of mobility can also lead to a loss of independence. Many seniors lose their independent living after an accident or disease make it nearly impossible for them to do the things they used to do, such as eating, bathing, and even driving. This loss of independence can also lead to isolation and depression. 

So what can we do to help our seniors going through this? Here are some suggestions:

-mental health evaluation is always important, especially if you or a loved one have recently had to make a huge life change.

-installing grab bars, shower seats, safety poles, and bed rails (as needed) can help a senior stay in their home longer, contributing to a happier, healthier mental wellbeing

-if walking has become an issue, aids such as a rollator or a scooter might be the answer. These make walking easier, and have a wide variety of accessories to make them an even better tool.

-if a senior has a problem getting out of a chair, or has pain, a lift chair is a good tool. Lift chairs literally lift the person back onto their feet in a better, more gentle position to stand and sit, and, depending on the features, have been known to help alleviate pain.

The biggest thing to remember is that nobody likes aging, and there are a lot of changes that come with. Patience, understanding, and kindness are huge, and go a long way in making communications easier, especially with tough conversations. Make sure to listen to your senior’s concerns, because it’s scary to lose your mobility, and take into consideration their lifestyle and desires. And if mobility aids are the answer, make sure you’re buying them from a reputable company that is easy to get ahold of, reliable, and easy to deal with. The last thing anyone needs is more frustration.

Sources:

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-of-older-adults

https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/maintaining-mobility-and-preventing-disability-are-key-living-independently-we-age

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7547325

https://www.forbes.com/health/senior-living/mobility-loss-and-mental-health/#:~:text=Loss%20of%20mobility%20can%20lead,them%20at%20risk%20for%20depression

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