Benjamin Franklin certainly had it right: An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to noticing and addressing mobility issues in seniors, prevention is crucial. Falls in seniors lead to 3 million emergency room visits, 300,000 hip fractures, and 32,000 deaths every year, according to research by the CDC. Get ahead of a tragedy by keeping an eye out for these warning signs of increasing mobility issues in seniors:
- Steering clear of stairs. An older adult who appears to be getting around just fine but is avoiding going up or down stairs could be fearful of falling due to mobility changes.
- Experiencing dizziness. Dizziness and problems with balance can develop from an array of factors that ultimately cause difficulty with mobility. It’s important to uncover why these problems are occurring and address them right away.
- Skipping physical activity. Another warning sign is a senior loved one who previously participated in some degree of exercise however now is choosing a more sedentary lifestyle. Exhaustion or weakness may cause issues with mobility.
- Struggling to sit or stand. Notice whether the older adult finds it hard to either stand up from a seated position or to sit back down. Do they require something to hold onto for support?
One simple and effective way to evaluate mobility and fall risk in seniors is the TUG (Timed Up and Go) test. The test should be performed on a consistent basis. Here’s all it requires:
- Place a sturdy chair against the wall.
- Mark a distance of ten feet from the wall.
- Have the senior sit in the chair.
- When you tell them to go, start a timer, and have the person stand, walk towards the 10’ mark, turn around, come back and sit down again.
Be sure to stand nearby while the senior performs the test to provide support if required. Track the results over a period of time and share with the person’s physician for guidance. Find more information about the test along with a downloadable one-page assessment sheet here.
In the event that you pick up on any of these signs, it’s time for you to have a frank conversation with the senior. Let the person know you’re concerned, and schedule an appointment for a check-up with the physician. The implementation of some simple mobility aids could make a world of difference in maintaining safety and independence.
Contact Home Sweet Home In-Home Care’s experts in home health services in Kalamazoo, MI and the surrounding areas for additional fall prevention strategies for older adults, and also to learn about the various ways we can improve quality of life for a senior you love.