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For many of us, older age can bring an array of long-term health conditions, some of which may cause mobility struggles including osteoarthritis, arthritis, Parkinson’s and obesity. As these cases are often gradual, it’s not always clear when the right time to use mobility aids is.
With so many circumstances to consider, there is no perfect time that will suit everybody. If you’re considering the use of mobility aids soon but you’re not sure if you should wait a little longer, here are a few factors to consider.
Will It Improve Your Endurance?
First and foremost, let’s remind ourselves of the purpose of mobility aids — to help you move around comfortably and safely. If you experience any pain, fatigue or loss of confidence when you move around — and it particularly affects your mobility endurance — there are many mobility aids to choose from to meet your needs.
The type of mobility aid best suited to you will depend on what your mobility issue or injury is. The most common mobility aids to consider are walking frames, canes, crutches, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Each aid offers different advantages, so you may benefit from a walking stick first and then, later down the line, graduate into using walking frames.
Will It Increase Your Quality Of Life?
Studies show that many older adults who might benefit from using mobility aids do not use them. You may find that there is a stigma associated with mobility aids — maybe you don’t “look” like you need one or perhaps you feel “old” using one. As a result, this can put you off from using a mobility aid, even if you know it’ll help you to move around better.
In this scenario, it’s a good idea to consider, if no one was watching, would you use a mobility aid without a second thought? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to stop limiting yourself and embrace mobility aids to improve your quality of life. Instead of simply “existing” and only moving when you absolutely need to in order to avoid pain or fatigue, sit in the wheelchair or grab that walker and use it for what it’s meant for — to give you greater freedom and independence.
Will It Reduce Your Risk of Falling?
A study into the patterns of cane and walker use in relation to falls and fall injuries found that 75% of respondents who fell were not using their device at the time of their fall. Not only can mobility aids help you to move around, but they’re also an excellent preventative measure to reduce the risk of falling. If you feel vulnerable to a fall, a mobility aid gives you extra security and peace of mind.
One reason for participants not using their mobility aid was that the perceived risk was not high enough to engage in self-protective behaviour. However, not using a mobility aid led to a significantly higher proportion of falls resulting in surgery compared to those who used them. Among respondents requiring surgery, 100% were non-users of mobility aids.
While those stats may sound confronting, use them to propel your own self-protection. If you feel that you would benefit from a mobility aid, whether for protection, to get around your home or to walk longer distances, it’s time to book a needs assessment from your local council. Following this assessment, you’ll receive a tailored recommendation of the mobility aids best suited to you and your lifestyle.