Written by Nurse Susan
Many seniors assume that limited mobility is an unavoidable part of the aging process. This definitely doesn’t have to be the case. By focusing on improving and maintaining their mobility, seniors can age in a healthy way, stay independent longer, and avoid falls and injuries that may negatively impact their quality of life.
Listed below are ten ways that seniors can improve their mobility to maintain strength and independence.
- Improve Balance
Focusing on improving balance is essential for seniors who want to avoid falls. Forms of exercise like yoga, tai chi, and pilates are great for improving balance. But, simply practicing standing on one foot (while holding onto chair or countertop) is also beneficial.
- Resistance Train
Resistance training strengthens the muscles and bones to improve balance and overall functionality. For seniors who are new to resistance training, bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups are a good starting point. Those who are more experienced can add resistance bands or weights.
- Utilize Mobility Aids
For those who currently struggle with walking, reaching, or other daily functions, it’s important to utilize mobility aids rather than simply avoid doing tasks that are challenging. Reach-extenders, canes, and walkers can help you stay active and avoid letting your limitations get in your way.
- Adjust Your Living Space
Making adjustments to your home can also improve your mobility and help you maintain your independence. Some good adjustments to start with include:
- Adding ramps to the entrance of your home
- Installing rails and grab bars
- Getting rid of loose rugs and objects that you could trip over
- Rearranging cabinets and closets to make items more accessible
- Work on Your Dexterity
If you improve your dexterity and grip strength, you’ll have an easier time handling tasks like opening doors and jars and carrying groceries. If you have a stronger grip, you’ll also have an easier time holding weights while you resistance train.
There are numerous ways to improve your dexterity and grip strength from the comfort of your own home:
- Squeeze a stress ball or therapy putty
- Do wrist curls with light dumbbells
- Do hand and finger stretches
- Practice picking up small objects like pennies or paper clips and moving them from one pile to another
- Tackle Household Projects on Your Own
There may be some household projects that you need help with — major projects like shingling your roof or mowing the lawn should probably be handled by professions! But, are there projects you’re outsourcing even though you could handle them on your own.
One way to improve your mobility is to challenge yourself to take on more projects. Don’t get carried away and do more than you can manage, but consider tackling tasks like changing light bulbs, vacuuming, and basic cleaning by yourself.
- Buy New Shoes
Sometimes, the solution to your mobility problems is simple. Changing your shoes could make a big difference in your ability to walk around and take care of other tasks. Look for shoes with plenty of tread to help you avoid slipping and falling. Your shoes should also fit comfortably and have plenty of support so that you can walk for extended periods of time without hurting your feet. Make sure you’re changing your shoes regularly, too, to avoid wearing them out.
- Change Your Diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help increase your energy and, by proxy, your mobility. Increasing your consumption of anti-inflammatory foods like salmon, nuts, and leafy green vegetables can also help reduce inflammation and joint pain that may be limiting your ability to move around freely.
- Get Your Eyes Checked
Conserving your vision with regular checkups will also help you maintain your independence. Not only will you be able to drive yourself to appointments, but you’ll also be able to spot potential tripping hazards more easily.
- Know Your Limits
Finally, while it’s important to challenge yourself, it’s also important for you to understand your limits. Avoid taking on risky activities that could end up making your mobility worse. If you’re not sure about a specific activity, talk to your doctor before participating.