March 2013- Evaluating Mobility Needs

Evaluating Mobility Needs

 DepressedSeniorManMobility represents a challenge to an older adult’s independence and autonomy. Mobility can be on several levels:
 1)      How does the older adult ambulate in the home and around the neighborhood?
 2)      How does the older adult move around in the community?
 3)      How does the older adult perform when driving?

Helping Elders Thrive

When people age, it affects them physically, mentally and emotionally.  Physically, eyesight may begin to decline especially if they have problems with cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration.How do they walk?  Is it slow and lumbering or brisk and sure? Gait is very predictive of longevity.  If they are shuffling, it may indicate an impending health condition that needs the attention of a physician.   Physical therapy may be prescribed to build weakened muscles.  It is one of the reasons light weights workouts are recommended.

Balance and coordination can be strengthened by closing eyes and touching a nose or other part of the body. Walk with someone monitoring while eyes are closed.  This heightens center of balance.

Dementia Impacts Driving Mobility

Many older adults are taking medications.  These medications can impact their ability to think and react behind the wheel. Mentally, dementia can cause confusion in a situation which requires a quick response.At 85, 50% of older adults experience some form of dementia. Older adults who have been diagnosed by a physician as having dementia or Alzheimer’s should be assessed regarding their ability to drive.  Dementia can also impact balance and coordination which puts the individual at higher risk for falls.