How to Find a Mobility Aid Best Suited to Your Elderly Loved One

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Watching your elderly loved one struggle with aging’s inevitable side effects is a painful process— especially as they lose motor functions. Prolonged stagnation due to a loss of movement can cause weight gain or loss, harmful fluid build-ups, and increased feelings of helplessness and anxiety.  Luckily, through the use of handy mobility aids, your loved one can continue to navigate the world independently. 

Transitioning to a mobility aid is a learning curve. However, the ability to move about freely and virtually pain-free is worth the complexities. Mobility aids help aging seniors maintain physical health, brain function, and self-esteem by allowing them to stretch stiff muscles and maintain self-sufficiency. If your loved one is experiencing frequent falls, continuous fatigue, and daily aches and pains, it may be time to consider a mobility aid. 

Choosing the Correct Mobility Aid

Before picking out a mobility aid, sit down with your loved one to discuss specific ailments and expectations with a trusted physician. That way, you can rest assured with an expert opinion in hand. Additionally, consider sitting down for a chat with your elderly loved one’s insurance agent to assess coverage and choose the best-suited aid for their needs. 

Talk to an Expert

Although you should be supportive and involved when your loved one is transitioning to a mobility aid for day-to-day use, it’s imperative to utilize medical professionals’ advice. Using a faulty or poorly-matched mobility aid can result in further health complications and increases the chance of fall-related injuries. Mobility experts can help your loved one find the right size, style, and type of mobility aid for maximum safety and maneuvering. 

Upright Walker vs. Traditional Walker

Walkers allow low-mobility seniors a newfound sense of independence, making them a popular route for elderly folks. However, traditional, low-sitting walkers require hunching and exert a tremendous amount of pressure on the wrists and hands, which can cause back pain and arthritis. 

To avoid further physical health complications, caretakers should suggest an upright walker for seniors in light of its ergonomic design. Upright walkers allow seniors to maintain a natural, upright position while alleviating back stress and wrist pain. Help your loved one avoid fall-related injuries by transitioning to a personalized, customizable upright walker.  

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Rollators, like walkers, are ideal for seniors on-the-go. Wheeled walkers are usually lightweight and compactable, making them easy to store and control, especially for elders with limited upper-arm strength. Unlike traditional and upright walkers, rollators are equipped with a seat for mid-walk fatigue and locking mechanisms for standing stabilization. 

Caneselderly cane

For seniors who are just beginning to lose their mobility, canes are a great option. Canes come in two basic grip styles: C-hooks—the more traditional style— and functional grips, which supports seniors with declining hand and arm strength. Canes are perfect for elders looking to maintain independence while increasing stabilization with minimal navigational restrictions

Other options to consider when looking at mobility crutches are single point versus quad-point canes. Single-point canes are useful for seniors wanting a minimally invasive stabilization aid, while quad canes provide additional stability with four base points instead of one. Old folk considering a walking stick should safely test their balance to assess the amount of support needed. 

Power Scooters

If your loved one cannot walk for extended periods —even with a walker or cane— it may be time to transition to a power scooter. Power scooters offer seniors with adequate arm strength the ability to move around freely without risk of falling or fatigue. However, for seniors with limited hand dexterity, controlling the throttle could become difficult or painful, especially with arthritis in the mix. 

Wheelchairswheel chair

An additional option for seniors struggling to get around is manual or electric wheelchairs. Choosing the perfect chair requires adequate research and depends on individual preference, arm strength, and personal finances. Both manual and electric wheelchairs offer customizable features, various sizes, and lightweight options to accommodate every aging senior and caretaker. 

Manual Chairs

Manual wheelchairs come in three styles: standard, lightweight, and ultra-lightweight. The perfect type for your loved one will depend on their specific needs and abilities. Standard chairs typically weigh around 40 pounds and offer essential wheelchair functions. While handy for some elders, others may find it challenging to propel themselves forward and should consider a light or ultra-light edition. Less heavy wheelchairs are easy to maneuver, require less handling from a caretaker, and offer increased back support—excellent for injured or weak spines— making them ideal for seniors with limited strength and mobility. 

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Electric Chairs

While many elders benefit from manual wheelchairs, others often need additional assistance offered by motorized chairs. Electric wheelchairs provide seniors struggling with weak extremities enhanced mobility and multi-terrain capabilities. Choose from various models equipped with front-wheel drive, weather-proof exterior, and long-lasting battery life to ensure maximum mobility for your loved one. Make sure to check with your loved one’s physician and insurance company to verify premiums, added costs, and size and type recommendations. 

Additional Roadblocks to Consider

After you and your elderly loved one have spoken to an expert, tested multiple aids, and measured for accurate sizing, consider making appropriate accommodations to their place of residence for maximum accessibility. It’s easy to overlook narrow hallways, sharp corners, and steep steps when mobility aids aren’t involved. However, wheeling your loved one to a home without a stair ramp further hinders their mobility. Take appropriate measures to make their home as accessible and comfortable as possible.

One typical roadblock seniors and caretakers run into is a less-than-helpful insurance company. Although most premiums cover some form of mobility aid, many require physician signatures and detailed reports of injuries, difficulties, and health conditions to acquire coverage. Plan accordingly, and expect some out-of-pocket charges to combat unexpected financial obstacles. 

When beginning the mobility aid journey, make sure you understand your elderly loved one’s specific needs and expectations to ensure a smooth, comfortable transition. Although aids can add to your loved one’s quality of life, they can also be a significant adjustment and cause additional stress for seniors struggling to find the perfect fit. Sit down with a trusted physician, do adequate research, and reach out to seniors currently using mobility aids for assistance.