Mobility loss in seniors can be extremely frustrating. It’s difficult to fully enjoy life when you have trouble walking, moving, and taking care of yourself. Mobility decline in the elderly can lead to depression, isolation, and loss of autonomy, causing a significant decline in one’s quality of life.
As seniors age, they can expect to find it slightly more difficult to move around than it once was. However, if you are a senior who is having trouble walking up the stairs or a quarter of a mile, you may be experiencing limited mobility.
What Causes Mobility Loss in Seniors?
It’s perfectly normal, and even expected, to lose muscle and bone strength and mass as you age. What isn’t normal, however, is having to sacrifice your golden years due to limited mobility.
By understanding the leading causes of mobility loss in seniors, you can take the proper preventative measures to be sure you stay as healthy and mobile as possible for as long as you can.
Here are the top 5 leading causes of mobility loss in the elderly.
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among adults and a staggering 61% of older adults with osteoarthritis (OA) – the most common type of arthritis – report having limited mobility outside the home. Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage between bones breaks down causing joints to become swollen, painful, and stiff. It can affect various parts of the body, such as the hips, knees, fingers, and feet.
While OA usually starts slowly and worsens over time, it can be extremely painful and debilitating. Certain risk factors like age, overuse, past joint injury, obesity, weak muscles, and genes all increase the risk of developing OA. Pain, reduced mobility, obesity, and heart disease are all potential side effects associated with osteoarthritis.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, people with OA experience nearly 30% more falls and 20% more fractures than people without OA. This is because the condition decreases joint function, weakens muscles, and makes seniors experience a loss in mobility.
Osteoporosis, another leading cause of mobility loss in seniors, is a bone disease that occurs when a person’s body loses too much bone or fails to make enough bone. The condition causes weakening bones that become increasingly susceptible to fractures over time. It is also a leading cause of hip fractures and hip replacements in the United States.
Since osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and weak, mild stresses to the bone can cause a break or fracture that would not occur in someone who is otherwise healthy. It can also lead to back pain, height loss, and poor posture – all symptoms that can lead to reduced mobility in seniors.
3. Falls and Injuries
While elderly mobility loss can lead to more falls and injuries, the opposite is true, as well. Accidents and falls can lead to mobility problems or reveal an underlying mobility issue that hadn’t yet been diagnosed.
Studies show that each year in the United States, persons over 65 years old sustain 220,000 hip fractures as a result of falling. Approximately 25% of these falls result in limited mobility or severe fear of falling. Even more shocking is that one study found that 50% of seniors who are hospitalized for a fall-related injury are never discharged to their home due to further issues and complications – one being the loss of mobility.
4. Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes stiffness, shakiness, and difficulty with balance, walking, and coordination. People with this condition usually see their symptoms progress slowly over time as they find it increasingly difficult to walk and talk.
Parkinson’s disease has a direct impact on motor control and mobility. Even with proper medical treatment, the condition is progressive and eventually lands many once mobile people in wheelchairs. In addition to a loss of mobility, Parkinson’s can also strip seniors of their personal autonomy when it comes to a variety of different activities, making this condition particularly devastating to deal with.
5. Cognitive Disorders and Cognitive Decline
Cognitive disorders such as Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia affect more than just the mind. They can also cause challenges with mobility in seniors. Seniors may have difficulty navigating stairs, avoiding falling hazards, and even accomplishing everyday tasks like eating and showering.
Cognitive disorders can affect mobility so much that many elderly individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s must have a caregiver or live in an assisted-living home. Furthermore, studies show that elderly individuals with cognitive issues are at an increased risk of falling and mobility loss when compared to cognitively healthy seniors.
Find Solutions to Elderly Mobility Loss Today
Senior citizens who are struggling with limited mobility may need assistance in and around the home. They may also need walking aids like canes, walkers, or mobility scooters. If you or a loved one have experienced mobility loss in your senior years, contact us today at Kelmedix to see how we can help make your life easier.