Why Falls are Such a Problem for Older Adults
As we get older, the combined effects of old injuries, arthritis and other joint problems, nerve damage, poor vision, medication side effects, and balance issues greatly increase the chances of falling - possibly causing serious injury. For an excellent overview of these concerns, see:
How to Care for Someone With a Mobility Impairment
Tools and Tech to Buy or DIY
Adaptive or assistive technology is a big business. These resources can help give an overview of the kinds of devices and tools available to help with mobility problems.
First, take a look at the box for Tools and Adaptations in the Common Concerns in Later Life - Balance and Mobility webpage in this series.
For additional information, see:
For organizations that offer free or low-cost medical equipment, please see the section for Finding Free or Low-Cost Medical Equipment here.
Get creative! There may be simple (or less costly) DIY solutions to everyday problems. The Adaptations link below shows some of the solutions that people with chronic illnesses or disabilities have come up with. In many cases these tips come from people in similar situations (and not from the health care team, who might not be aware of all that's involved in living with a chronic illness or disability) - all the more reason to connect with support groups!
Often we reject the idea of using an assistive tool like a wheelchair, scooter, or hearing aids. Maybe it's that we don't want to be thought of as disabled or crippled; maybe it's that we fear being discriminated against. It's quite common for people to refuse to use assistive technologies unless it's the last resort - and end up, ironically, suffering from loneliness and isolation that could be less if they used these tools to be more independent.
If your loved one is reluctant to get an assistive tool (or has one, but rarely uses it), these sources may help to overcome resistance:
Traveling With a Mobility Disability
Mobility aids are often considered tools for "activities of daily living", which includes getting out of the home to shop, go to medical appointments, visit friends and family, and traveling locally. But more extensive travel is not out of the question, either.
Unfortunately, wheelchairs and scooters are too often damaged in travel. It's wise to know your rights as a traveler, and also to have a back-up plan if needed. If there is a choice between airlines, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Air Travel Consumer Reports tracks mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, mishandled baggage, canceled or delayed flights, customer complaints, etc. for the major U.S. air carriers.
When mobility problems are disease-related
When someone's problems with mobility stem from a serious disease, their life - and their caregivers' - become more complicated. Besides getting advice and assistance from the health care team, check out these resources. They may help to put issues into context, or suggest additional ways to approach those challenges. And do connect with support groups for tips and suggestions!
And also peruse the Health Topics directory for MedlinePlus:
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