Mobility in the elderly population is vital on many fronts, notably staying as physically fit as possible and staying socially connected to avoid the isolation that can lead seniors toward depression. Though some people feel embarrassed by needing a mobility aid, using a cane, walker or rollator for support can re-open the outside world as well as make it easier to move about safely at home, without the fear of falling just going to the sink for a glass of water.
There are different types of mobility products offering different levels of support for different needs. For instance, a pair of crutches is often necessary when you’re healing from a broken bone, whereas a cane or rollator typically provides a more permanent mobility aid. New designs and styles allow mobility equipment to do more and be more appealing looking—less institutional in feel.
For everyday mobility aid and support, a walking cane is usually the first piece of mobility equipment to consider. Some canes have a small attached seat that allows you to take a rest while you’re using in away from home. Others have a light attached to help illuminate your path. Folding canes are easy to store in a bag while you’re traveling to and from a destination. A cane can be outfitted with a base that enables it to provide much more support and better distribution of your weight. Offset handles also provide added stability because they help you center your grip over the shaft of the cane. Many canes can be adjusted to perfectly suit your height.
When you need more support from a mobility product, a walker might be the better choice. A walker requires a certain degree of upper body strength to maneuver it up and forward, moving it ahead of you as you walk. Some walkers have two wheels to make this easier. If you need support yet have leg strength, a 4- or 3-wheeled rollator, with a wheel at the end of each leg, makes it easier to move along smoothly. Some rollator models convert to a transport chair, a type of wheelchair that a caregiver pushes to move forward; others, including some walkers, have a seat that allows you to rest while you’re using it.
When walking for long stretches is tiresome and difficult, a electric scooter for seniors designed to handle sidewalks, parking lots and grocery stores can enable you to maintain your independence. Look for models that can be adjusted to your height for the greatest comfort and that are designed to go the typical distances you need to travel on each battery charge.
A wheelchair is the ultimate mobility aid, enabling you to maneuver when you are no longer ambulatory using other mobility devices. Choices range from very basic, economical models to state-of-the-art designs nearly rivaling a car. Ramps and other accessories increase a wheelchair’s ease of use and comfort.
Other types of mobility devices include products that help you perform every day maneuvers, like grab bars and rails for getting out of bed and transfer plates or disks that help you pivot from a standing position into a car. The most important thing to know is that there is a mobility product for virtually every need—identifying the tasks you need help with and taking careful measurements to choose the right product to suit your height and weight and the dimensions within your home (for wheeled mobility equipment) are the first steps to take as you shop.