As we age, mobility can become more and more of a challenge. We can become weaker, more prone to losing our balance. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 36 million older adults (age 65+) fall each year. These falls are not without their consequences; one out of five cause an injury, such as broken bones or a head injury, and 32,000 older adults die each year as a result of a fall.
Types of Mobility Aids For Seniors
The statistics noted above illustrate the importance of mobility aids. Mobility aids are designed to help older adults stay safe while staying mobile. The right mobility aid will enable you to remain independent, mobile, but, more importantly, safe. To help you determine the best mobility aid for your needs, we’ve outlined the many options available to elderly consumers, from a simple cane to an electric scooter.
For many who are beginning to experience challenges with mobility, a cane is the first choice. There are many different types of canes available. Single-point canes can assist with balance while providing relief in the knee, ankle, and hip joints. For those who want more balance support from their cane, quad canes rest on a four-point base making them more stable than their single-point counterparts.
Canes are the cheapest of the options available on this list, the most portable, and allow the user to traverse the most diverse array of surfaces, including stairs. For those who are looking for a relatively minimal form of support while walking, canes are an excellent choice.
For those looking for more support than a cane can offer, a good choice might be a walker. Walkers typically consist of a framework that surrounds the users on three sides at waist height. The user can place two hands on the walker’s handles and use them to support themselves as they walk. You pick up the walker, place it in front of you, step towards it, and repeat. Many people opt for walkers with either two or four wheels so that they can roll the walker forward rather than have to lift it. Walkers with four legs, referred to as rollators, are typically equipped with brakes as well as a seat in the framework so that the user can rest as needed.
Walkers present many benefits; they offer the user the greatest level of support and comfort that can be achieved before moving to a wheelchair or scooter. They are easy to transport in a vehicle and are also relatively affordable. These benefits make a walker the logical choice for many older adults.
For those who can no longer walk safely or comfortably, wheelchairs are a good option. Wheelchairs can be rolled by hand by the user, pushed by a loved one or an aid, or electronically powered. Prices can vary greatly amongst different models, as well as their transportability. Some, but not all, wheelchairs can be folded up to fit easily within a vehicle. For users who opt for a less portable wheelchair, a handicap-accessible van may be required for out-of-home use.
Wheelchairs offer users a far greater level of safety than either canes or walkers. That being said, they are also less mobile. Those who will be using a wheelchair will need to ensure that their home is equipped with ramps so that they can move throughout the home, and you might find certain areas require remodeling in order to be navigated with a wheelchair. Despite these hindrances, wheelchairs are the ideal choice for many elderly Americans.
Scooters are not unlike wheelchairs, providing many similar benefits. Scooters are generally most beneficial for those who lack the strength or dexterity to operate a manual wheelchair. They are battery-powered and ride on anywhere from three to five wheels.
Scooters come with many of the same pitfalls as a wheelchair. Users are unable to climb staircases and will require ramps. Furthermore, scooters generally have an even larger footprint than a wheelchair, meaning navigating your home might prove even tighter than it would in a wheelchair.
Stairlifts are a great option for people who are challenged by a staircase in their home. Stairlifts are electronically controlled lifts that are installed to climb up and down your stairway. Stairs are a challenge for many seniors, and installing a stairlift is a wise decision for many people who plan to age in place.
Many people don’t think of hospital beds when they think of mobility aids, but hospital beds can provide many important benefits to their users. The adjustability of a hospital bed is essential for many users, making it far easier for them to get in and out of bed. Transfer Master Hosptial beds offer their users greater independence and safety than traditional beds and can be paired with any of the mobility aids listed above to assist in both aging in place or life in an assisted living facility.
It is important to remember that the ideal solution for each individual might consist of more than one form of mobility aid. For example, while at home, a walker might suffice, but when you are traveling further outside of your home, perhaps down the street or in your yard, you might opt for a scooter. Determining the ideal combination of mobility aids for your circumstances is the best way to stay safe while staying mobile.