Tips on Overcoming Mobility Difficulties During the Winter
As we begin to get older, our bodies often suffer from mobility issues. These can be brought on by a number of things, including weakening bone structures, illnesses, neurological problems, and joint problems. Unfortunately, not all of these symptoms can be avoided, and it is common that those in the senior population will struggle with unsteadiness and falling as a result of their ailments.
Mobility is a huge factor for seniors who want to maintain a high quality of life. The ability to move around, travel, and take care of themselves is imperative to having a sense of independence and purpose. Common risk factors for depression in seniors include chronic illnesses, disabilities, and social isolation, all of which may have a connection to issues with mobility.
In the warmer months, it is often much easier for people to get around. Roads and sidewalks are clear; ramps are less slippery; and the weather is more agreeable. For seniors, mobility can become dramatically impaired in the colder months, which makes it that much more important to ensure they’re maintaining their daily mobility during these times.
Here are some helpful tips in combatting mobility difficulties during the winter.
It’s important for seniors to get outside even in the colder months for many reasons. Staying indoors can affect mood, eating habits, and, of course, mobility. All of these things are magnified for older adults, who need to stay active if they want to maintain their health, happiness and independence.
The negative effects of staying indoors all day are plenty, but incorporating mobility assistance into a senior’s daily routine may be part of the solution to getting them outdoors more often. High-quality products for mobility assistance for seniors include things that aid in their general movements and make moving around outside more manageable.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a senior being treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds, while one senior dies every 19 minutes from a fall. Props that can help reduce the number of tumbles include fold and go walkers, canes, and seat assistants, which can help to improve mobility in winter weather.
Other items that are ideal for mobility include props that help seniors get in and out of cars more safely, including the CarCaddie, swivel cushion seats, and extra handlebars.
When the weather is bad, mobility can also be hindered by slippery surfaces. To avoid injuries that are common with this kind of condition, it’s suggested that seniors are fitted with warm, non-slip shoes.
Some of the best winter boots for seniors include styles that are slightly wide to accommodate swelling feet, and easy to tie with elastic laces. They should also be easy to put on and remove, so that seniors are not discouraged and tempted to stay indoors. Try to avoid anything that has a high heel inside, and ensure that the materials are easy to care for so the boots last through the season.
For those elderly individuals who cannot make it outdoors in the wintertime, at-home exercises are another way to overcome mobility issues. If a senior is unable to make it to their gym or fitness classes, instructions can be provided via DVDs and online courses that they can follow in the comfort of their own home.
The ability of an individual to move around freely relies strongly on an individual’s balance; dizziness and falls are more likely to occur when a senior struggles with controlling their movements. Fortunately, there are some mobility exercises that can help to improve that balance, including slow, controlled movements they can perform on any flat surface in their home.
Individuals should practice standing on one foot, and placing props around the room to practice stepping over. Working on walking a straight line can also be helpful, as well as working on visual tracking. There are also all kinds of exercises to improve both balance and strength, and these can be done at the comfortable pace of the individual in their own home.
If you know someone who is struggling with mobility, then it is important that you recognize how much tougher the winter months can be for them. If possible, consider offering your assistance to these individuals, and making visits to ensure that they’re getting outdoors or at least staying active at home.
Becoming stagnant in the winter months can have a huge impact on a senior’s body through the colder months, making it just as difficult to be mobile once it gets warm again. Take the time to consider the suggestions made, so the seniors you know can overcome their mobility difficulties in the winter.
- Becky McDowell