Changes in our mobility is a normal part of aging. As we get older, we may find balance becomes an issue, or it might be harder to get up and down stairs. We may require assistance with things like getting in and out of the car, or we may have to switch hobbies from running, for example, to walking or yoga.
With these changes, we must adapt. The word adapt is defined as “to become adjusted to new circumstances.” Life is full of reasons we must adapt, in all areas of life. Our physical mobility is just one of these areas, and with a few tips and tricks, we can adapt in healthy and functional ways. As we adjust and move forward, we can often maintain our independence and improve our overall wellbeing.
Here are 5 Tips for Adapting to Changes in Mobility:
Tip # 1: Stay Active
It might seem counter-intuitive, but staying active is actually the best prevention for many physical (and mental) health issues. The old adage “use it or lose it” is true. To keep our bodies and brains healthy, we have to keep them active. To do this, be sure to follow these tips:
- Engage in physical activity appropriate for your fitness level and adjust accordingly.
- Speak with your doctor about your overall health and what level of fitness works best with your health concerns, goals and interests.
- Seek out professional training or support if necessary. If you’re new to lifting weight, for example, hire a trainer or physical therapist to help with proper form and to create an individualized program. Both will pay dividends in the long run.
Tip #2: Make Home Modifications
One of the best ways to enjoy and maintain an independent lifestyle is to make modifications to your own home. This way, you can be safe, secure and healthy at home, where you’re comfortable and feel safe. Here are three tips for making sure your home is modified to meet your needs:
- Meet with a professional care manager who has experience with home modifications to help identify which adjustments you need to make both now and in the future. Care managers have helped many clients who have lived decades with mobility issues, assisting them in adjustments over the years. So, they can help you see what you need now and in the coming years. You might need a ramp now but may need to consider widening doors in the next few years to accommodate a wheelchair. Planning for those changes ahead of time can make the adjustment (and cost) much easier and smoother.
- Work with professionals to install mobility aids to ensure they are properly fitted and secure.
- Rearrange furniture or remove certain items (like rugs) for a safer, easier environment. This can help in keeping pathways clear and removing obstacles, which can be dangerous for someone with mobility limitations.
Tip #3: Embrace Technology
Technology has come a long way in helping seniors from everything from hearing aids and to fall prevention. Make use of the newest and most developed technology to help keep you safe and mobile.
Some of the best technology options for mobility include:
- Smart canes and walking sticks
- Mobility scooters
- GPS trackers
- Adaptive clothing (such as those with magnetic closures instead of buttons)
- Telehealth options for healthcare such as primary care visits or medication management
- Wheelchairs with smart features
Tips #4: Social Support
When our mobility changes, we often feel isolated. It’s harder to get around. We may feel depressed and cut off from our friends, social events and even loved ones. Social support makes a huge difference in any change in our lives, including mobility changes. Some ways to keep social include:
- Join senior centers that have activities for all fitness and mobility levels.
- Keep in touch with family and friends, even if it means adapting to virtual visits or keeping in touch through apps.
- Host gatherings at home if getting out is challenging.
- Utilize senior transportation services if driving becomes an issue.
Tip #5: Manage your Mindset
Acceptance and mindfulness are both great additions to any health plan. Changes in mobility and desire to remain independent are both affected by mindset. Accepting change is difficult but an important part of the process of adaptation. We don’t adapt until we first accept. Mindfulness is another great way to engage in acceptance, reduce stress and process any feelings or thoughts associated with life’s inevitable changes. Some ways to practice acceptance and mindfulness include:
- Download an app like Insight Timer, which is free and provides meditations and mindfulness activities.
- Journal about your feelings and work through any negative thoughts regarding these changes. Writing uses a different part of the brain than speaking, so it’s a great way to promote processing and change in the brain about your feelings regarding your mobility.
- Practice mindful walking, which will help with balance, focus and stress all at the same time.
- Get outside and spend time in nature for an overall boost to your mood and physical health.
- Engage in mindful art like coloring or drawing, which is simple to do and can not only be calming but can also improve focus and hand-eye coordination.
Change can be challenging for all of us. When changes affect our mobility, it can be especially hard.
We fear we won’t be able to maintain our independence, or we might feel depressed or anxious about limitations we face.
All of these feelings and experiences are normal. How we deal with them is one of the aspects of aging we can control. Adapting to changes in mobility can help us continue thriving and living meaningful lives, even if those lives look a little different. Using these tips and exploring our new worlds can help.
If you’d like more advice and insight form professionals who are experienced in helping keep you active, mobile and independent, speak with a trained Care Manager who can help you assess your needs, evaluate changes and create a personalized care plan to move forward in a way that’s best for you.