Important Tips on Helping Your Elderly Parents with Mobility Issues
If you are like me, you’re suddenly beginning to realize your parents aren’t young any longer. They look weak and frail, and also seem to have difficulties in moving around. No longer able to do many of the routine things of life because of mobility issues, they seem vulnerable and helpless.
And I’m guessing you probably feel helpless, too, not knowing how to help them cope with their mobility problems. Here are a few tips and suggestions to guide you on supporting your elderly parents with mobility issues, whether temporary or permanent.
Caring for them
From an emotional point of view, there’s nothing like personally helping your elderly parents suffering from mobility issues. So if you support them in their day-to-day activities, such as cleaning, cooking, shopping etc…, it’s the best gift you can give them for all the help they gave you in those early years of your life. That, however, isn’t always feasible on a permanent basis. At best, it can be a temporary or a short-term solution depending on your parent’s disability.
Unfortunately, given your own work and personal commitments, you may not be in a position to do all these activities for your parents yourself. That’s where a home caregiver comes in. It’s a good idea to consider hiring one at the outset of the disability, whether temporary or long-term.
Trained as they are to provide professional support, caregivers can help out your parents by not only by providing them with personal care but also physical therapy. They can help your parents with exercises to improve their balance and strengthen their weak muscles, thus equipping them to handle their mobility issues a little better.
Modern medical advancements have made it possible to support your elderly parents suffering from mobility issues with devices that are designed to support them. So you can buy home care products for the elderly that can help your parents move around more easily.
Canes and walkers are common devices of this kind. Canes with large handles are also perfect if the problem is more serious. There are a large variety of chairs designed to facilitate movement for the elderly who can no longer move around on their own.
From a wheelchair, scooter, to risers (a kind of booster chair that can be fitted on to a regular chair or couch), there are many chairs you can choose from. It’s even possible to take your parents out in the car with swivel seat cushions designed for the four-wheeler.
Then there are transfer boards and transfer discs to help them slide out of their beds on their own without assistance. Other suitable devices include a chest harness baby carrier, a side-opening crib, accessible bathtubs and accessible strollers. The whole idea is to make them retain some measure of independence in moving around with the use of these external aids.
Changes in the home
Mobility issues can be physically and emotionally painful and constraining. Even mobility devices may not help if your home (or your parents’ house) is not designed for easy movement in case of disability. Some changes may, therefore, be necessary to make things easier for your elderly parents in such a case.
These may include replacing the entrance stairs with ramps, getting toilet seats that are raised and also have bars to hold on to, the widening of doors and passages to enable the wheelchair to move around easily, and potentially lowering the sinks and counters to a height where they can easily be reached from a wheelchair.
These are some changes that you can make particularly for elderly parents who are in a wheelchair. However, even if a wheelchair isn’t required, there are things you can do around the house to make things easier for them.
For one, keep the floor and the passages free of clutter so that they don’t accidently trip over something and fall. After all, you wouldn’t want your parents to be falling around and getting hurt. So ensure that the stairs inside the house are lined by banisters which they can hold on to while climbing (if they’re not in a wheelchair). Also, make sure that all the rugs in the house are well-fastened. Another solution is to install carpeting that is slide proof.
Keeping the house well-lit at all times is also essential if your elderly parents have mobility issues. Your parents may also find it useful to have a walk-in shower in the bathroom, with a seat inside and a removable shower head to eliminate the risk of a fall. Make the house as fool-proof and as safe as possible for your parents.
While caregivers, as well as mobility products for the elderly, can be quite beneficial in making your parents’ lives easier, it’s important also to give them emotional support when faced with mobility problems. Failure to move around properly can be frustrating and depressing, so you need to create an emotional support system for the alleviation of their anxiety.
You can perhaps persuade them to join a support group or even a relaxation therapy (yoga and meditation are good options and there are several yoga techniques they can safely do despite mobility issues). If need be, you can even ask their doctor to prescribe them anti-anxiety medicine if appropriate.
Patience is the key to helping your elderly parents cope with their mobility issues. Encourage them to do their exercises regularly, and arrange a good occupational or physical therapist if possible. Talk to them and spend time with them as much as you can.
Ensure that they have a good support system and a social circle that keeps them busy and diverted from their mobility issues. Work out things in such a manner that they’re able to meet up with friends frequently and can also participate in social events. Arrange for someone to take them out to such events so that they don’t feel isolated.
If you don’t live together, It’s a good idea to also remain personally in touch with them – you can buy them a good cell phone and install CCTV in their home which you can see even from the remote. Alarms can also be installed at accessible places around the house.
Coach them against undertaking chores that carry a risk of a fall and tell them what to do in case they do fall (this is more important where your parents are living alone). Install whatever safety gadgets you can in their home and have a well-planned emergency back-up system in place. Your parents deserve all the care they can!