Benjamin Franklin certainly had it right: An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to noticing and addressing elderly mobility issues, prevention is crucial. Falls in older adults lead to 3 million emergency room visits, 300,000 hip fractures, and 32,000 deaths every year, according to the CDC.
Get ahead of a tragedy by keeping an eye out for these warning signs of increasing elderly mobility issues:
- Experiencing dizziness. Dizziness and problems with balance can arise from an array of factors that ultimately cause problems with mobility. It’s important to uncover why these issues are taking place and address them right away.
- Steering clear of stairs. A senior loved one who appears to be getting around just fine but is avoiding going up or down stairs may be fearful of falling as a result of mobility changes.
- Struggling to sit or stand. Notice whether or not the senior finds it difficult to either stand up from a seated position or to sit back down. Do they need something to hold onto for support?
- Skipping physical activity. Another warning sign is a senior who previously participated in some degree of exercise but now is choosing a more sedentary lifestyle. Weakness or exhaustion may cause issues with mobility.
One simple and effective way to gauge mobility and fall risk in seniors is the TUG (Timed Up and Go) test. The test should be carried out on a regular basis. Here’s all it takes:
- Place a sturdy chair against the wall.
- Mark a distance of 10’ from the wall.
- Have your loved one sit in the chair.
- When you tell them to go, start a timer, and have the person stand, walk towards the ten-foot mark, turn around, come back and sit down again.
Be sure to stand close by while the senior performs the test to provide support if needed. Track the results over a period of time and share with the person’s doctor for guidance. Find more information on the test along with a downloadable one-page evaluation sheet here.
In the event that you pick up on any of these signs, it is time for you to have a frank conversation with the older adult. Let the person know you’re concerned, and schedule an appointment for a check-up with the doctor. The implementation of some simple mobility aids could make an enormous difference in maintaining safety and independence.
Contact Seniorcorp for additional fall prevention strategies for seniors, and to learn more about our senior care services in Portsmouth and other nearby areas. For a full list of the different communities we serve in Virginia, please visit our Service Area page.