When it comes to the game of aging, remaining mobile is the proverbial hole in one, the winning touchdown, the grand slam home run many seniors are gunning for. The ability to walk around and exercise unimpeded has lasting effects on both the physical and mental health of older adults. Preventative actions, awareness, exercise and diet all play a significant role in remaining mobile – keep these 5 mobility tips in mind as you age:
Know the Signs
Early signs of mobility issues can go unnoticed without a keen body awareness and understanding of what qualifies as a problem with walking or standing. Short of an injury or surgery which impairs mobility temporarily, mobility issues might be as simple as:
• Trouble standing or walking for more than 10 minutes at a time
• Pain or weakness bearing weight on your legs and feet
• Experiencing multiple falls
• Feeling fatigued after simple trips like walking up stairs or grocery shopping
Catching any mobility issues you notice from the start can help you get the medical attention, physical therapy, exercise plan, or mobility aid you need to keep moving. Ignoring early warning signs of mobility problems can lead to unhealthy behaviors that worsen the issue like avoiding exercise, social isolation, and eating unhealthy foods.
Regular physical fitness is practically a superpower when it comes to maintaining your mobility. Experts recommend that even seniors get around 30 minutes of regular exercise daily with low-impact activities like practicing yoga or tai chi, taking brisk walks, dancing, and swimming. Not only does exercise boost blood flow and heart rate which strengthens your heart and lungs, it also builds up bone mass, lowers high blood pressure, and stimulates brain function to prevent memory loss and dementia. Sturdy bones, strong muscles, and a robust brain are the ingredients to mobility success for older adults.
Find the Right Mobility Aid
Don’t canes, walkers and knee scooters mean permanent mobility decline? Not at all. Mobility aids aren’t engineered to be the “crutches” you rely on to get around, but instead should be considered empowering assistive devices designed to keep you moving. If you want to stay mobile as you age, finding the right walking aid like a broken leg scooter (knee scooter) or quad cane, can be just the instrument you need to support your weight, stabilize your movements and help you balance.
A balanced diet rich in whole grains, lean proteins, and lots of fruits and vegetables paves the way for strengthened mobility as the years go by. Combined with regular exercise, a healthy diet promotes a healthy weight which prevents loads of medical problems like obesity, diabetes, and osteoporosis, which can all reduce mobility significantly. Consuming enough vital minerals like potassium (promotes strong muscles) and calcium (boosts bone density), and vitamins like C and D (bolsters immune system and prevents cancer) is easier when you ditch processed foods, eat out less, and cook more for yourself in your own home.
Almost everyone knows a senior who has fallen at some point and broken a hip. This doesn’t have to be you! While 1 in 3 seniors over 65 does experience a fall at some point, preventing them is simple, effective and a major factor in remaining mobile. Falls can not only result in hip fractures, but other broken bones, lacerations, bruising, and oftentimes, hospitalization and extended recovery times. How can you prevent falls in your own home?
• Clear away clutter and trip hazards
• Avoid messy areas and spills, i.e. around pet dishes
• Exercise to strengthen balance, flexibility and coordination
• Install rails and grab bars around tricky environments like stairs and bathrooms
• Get your eyes checked regularly to catch any vision problems that might impair your walking
Remaining mobile well into your old age can mean a lot of things – being able to travel, having the ability to play with grandkids, even holding on to your independence and self-reliance to do things for yourself like volunteering and running errands. Take positive and preventative mobility action now and reap the benefits for years to come.