As people get older, many of them start to struggle with mobility. While not all elderly people experience mobility problems or pain when walking, it’s not an uncommon situation.
What do you do when it’s your family member who’s having trouble walking?
Caring for the elderly, especially when they’re our parents or other loved ones, comes with many challenges. It’s hard to take a new role in their lives. That role was once the role that they filled for you.
We’re here to talk about how you can start caring for an aging parent who’s managing mobility issues. Keep reading to learn more.
Acknowledge the Problem
Your loved one may find it embarrassing to talk about their current struggles with their mobility. They may not want to mention it out of fear of burdening you, or because they’re ashamed.
If they aren’t willing to bring it up on their own, take it upon yourself to open up a conversation about mobility problems in elderly. Make sure that you frame each problem with “I” statements so they don’t feel like attacks or accusations.
Say that you’re worried about them and consider offering statistics about how often elderly people experience dangerous falls.
Don’t Infantilize Your Parent
It’s easy to start “looking down” on your parent when they start losing certain capabilities. Remember, though, that they’re still your parent and they deserve the same respect that you’ve always given them.
Your parent needs to feel independent and empowered to improve their mobility (whether it’s through strengthening or mobility aids). If they feel as though you’re talking down to them, they may be more resistant to getting help.
Add Accessibility Features
How many accessibility objects does your parent have around the house?
If their mobility struggles are new, they probably don’t have anything. If this is the case, why not help them add a few things around the house to make walking (or otherwise getting around) easier for them?
First: if your parent lives in a multi-story house, consider asking them to downsize (even if that means moving in with you. This is a great time to consider a mother-in-law suite if you’re able to do so). This will make it safer to traverse the home.
If they aren’t willing to move, make sure all stairs have handrails. You could also talk about installing chairs that move up and down staircases if you have the means to do so.
Hallways should also have handrails, as should the restroom. Keeping a rail next to the toilet and one in the bathtub or shower will make it easier for your parent to take care of themselves. It’s also helpful to add a shower seat so they can get some relief from standing.
When your loved one has trouble walking, it’s helpful to encourage exercise (even if it’s difficult at the time). Not all exercise has to be high-impact. Even low-impact strength training exercises can strengthen your parent’s legs, hips, and back to make walking around easier.
Start with something simple, like yoga that they can do from a chair. There are in-person yoga classes for this, or you can use videos and guides on the internet. You could also look into aerial yoga if they find standard yoga too boring.
You can move onto other strengthening activities like pilates. Do these things with your parent (or set them up with a group of people that can exercise together).
If you’re unsure of what to suggest, consider sending your parent to a physical therapist for help. A physical therapist can come up with stretches and exercises for your parent’s specific situation.
Help Them In Public
When you’re out and about, help your parent get around when they need you to (but try not to do so if they don’t ask. Remember, you don’t want to make them feel as though you’re infantilizing them.
Offer your arm and be sure to walk at a reasonable pace. Carry heavier objects while you’re shopping, so they don’t have that added weight while they’re trying to get around.
Use an In-Home Helper
Unless your loved one lives with you or in a care facility, they will be spending time alone in their homes. Even if they’re confident that they won’t fall or hurt themselves, there’s nothing wrong with using in-home care.
Using an in-home caregiver can help your loved one keep the house in order, help them get dressed or get to the restroom, and make sure that they don’t experience any dangerous falls.
In-home caregivers don’t have to be professionals. They assist the elderly with all of their needs. Your loved one doesn’t have to be ill or immobile to benefit from in-home care.
You, a friend, or another family member could be an in-home caregiver for your aging parent. While many people are worried that they can’t spare that time due to their jobs or financial woes, you can actually get paid to help your loved one through CDPAP.
Consider learning more about CDPAP so you or another loved one can keep your aging parent safe in their home without a financial burden.
Shop for Mobility Aids
If your parent values their independence, why not help them shop for mobility aids? Doing it together might make them feel less isolated.
Not everyone needs the same level of mobility aid. Some people are more than comfortable with a simple cane. Others need walkers, and some people benefit from wheelchairs or scooters (even if they don’t use them full-time).
When you shop together, talk about your parent’s specific needs and try out a few options.
Does Your Loved One Have Trouble Walking?
It’s normal for people to start having trouble walking as they age. Make sure that your parent knows that it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. There’s nothing wrong with getting help if it will keep them safe.
Whether you choose mobility aids, accessibility features, an in-home caregiver, or a combination of any of these tips, your parent will be better off for it.
Are you in need of an in-home caregiver for your aging parent? At Family Always First, we aim to help friends and family members provide in-home care for their loved ones. See if you’re eligible for CDPAP so you can receive compensation for caring for your loved one on your own without a financial burden.