It is the goal of many seniors to live independently for as long as possible. However, the complexities of the daily activities we perform are enough to make anyone feel old. At times, simply getting out of bed may seem like a momentous task. Whether we like it or not, as we grow older, this feeling becomes more persistent and common. However, it is not necessary that these difficulties are only caused due to age. Sometimes there can be various underlying health issues behind this. In this blog post, we will highlight the complexities of daily living activities, what might cause mobility issues for older adults and how they can improve their condition.
The activities seniors have to perform on a daily basis, can be categorized into Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL). ADL stands for the basic activities we do every day in order to live, such as eating, dressing up, going to the bathroom, and so on. IADL stands for more complex activities that are required for a senior’s daily life, but not something they have to perform on an everyday basis like cooking, cleaning, running errands, managing transportation, or preparing meals. Now before we talk about the possible causes of difficulty in performing daily activities, let’s discuss some of the factors you should consider in order to monitor your overall mobility.
First, can you perform your basic daily activities or ADLs perfectly fine? If yes, then that is good news as it indicates that you can function on your own without seeking help from others.
Secondly, can you carry out most of the IADLs? Is there any particular activity you struggle to do? If yes, then what could be the reasons? Is it just your usual tiredness or is there something else that is affecting your daily performance?
Third, how does your mobility compare to other seniors in general, or those in your age range specifically? Though it is not always recommended to compare ourselves with others, sometimes it can be a helpful tool to get a general idea of one’s abilities.
Now let’s have a look at some of the possible causes of having mobility issues for older adults apart from aging:
- Injury or illness such as a stroke can affect mobility. Osteoarthritis is also a common cause of creating difficulties in moving among elders. It can lead to a reduced range of motion, pain, and stiffness in the joints.
- Medications can cause side effects such as dizziness, fatigue, and weakness. It ultimately affects your overall productivity and hampers your ability to undertake daily activities.
- Mental health conditions like Alzheimer’s or depression can lead to reduced motivation to be active or to participate in meaningful physical activities.
- Lack of physical activity causes muscle atrophy and loss of flexibility in joints which can cause balance problems. Inactivity also causes the loss of muscle tone which is needed to move around comfortably.
- Lack of sleep can affect mobility too as sleep works as a fuel to the body and generates energy to perform daily tasks. It may cause daytime fatigue, drowsiness, memory issues, and so on.
- Diabetic patients, especially the ones suffering from type 2 diabetes can suffer from impaired mobility and neuropathy, which is nerve damage that may cause loss of sensation in the feet and cause numbness. Diabetes also leads to other health problems such as heart disease or kidney failure.
- Poor nutrition may also lead to a loss of muscle mass and decreased bone density, which leads to mobility problems.
Now you may or may not be suffering from these problems that are slowing you down. However, sometimes problems arise pretty randomly even without you noticing any changes. This is why it is better to be cautious and pay attention to your body and overall health. Here is how you can improve or even prevent these mobility issues:
Get up and move
Try doing some stretching exercises after getting up. Walking is another great exercise that helps your muscles stay strong and makes them more flexible, which can improve mobility in the long run. It also boosts bone density and lowers blood sugar levels. Walk for at least 20 minutes each day to get these benefits! However, there is no need to go on an exhausting jog that will tire you. You can also try meditation or performing yoga in the morning to keep your head clear.
Use mobility tools
There are several mobility tools that can provide support to move around easily such as walkers, rollators, mobility scooters. They can be quite handy especially if you are suffering from a disability or other health issues. For diabetic patients, wearing orthopedic shoes can be helpful to keep balance while walking or moving.
Get plenty of rest during the day
The body operates better when you are well rested, and it also helps keep your bones strong. Take naps during the day if necessary.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
Eat smaller portions of food in regular intervals containing more protein, fiber, less sugar, and vegetables. This will provide necessary nutrients to the body and prevent loss of muscle mass and bone density.
Many seniors suffer from loneliness at their older age which often leads to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. That is why it is best if they can stay connected to their family and friends. Even if you cannot meet physically, try making a phone call or video chat to keep in touch. This will lift your mood and help you feel less lonely, ultimately keeping you motivated.
Seek professional help
If you are still having problems performing your daily duties even after following all these previous tips, it might indicate that you have to consult a professional therapist or doctor. They will be able to coordinate care and medication for the specific condition that may be affecting your mobility so that you can continue enjoying an active lifestyle.
To conclude, moving around and undertaking your daily activities may become difficult as you age, but there are many ways you can maintain and improve your mobility. Though it is great if you can monitor your movements on your own, but also understand when it is time for some professional help. With the right attitude, few lifestyle adjustments and a little support from the right people, you can overcome almost any obstacles that may come your way. Do not let age be a limitation when it comes to living your life!