What do accessibility and mobility solutions look like?
Accessibility and mobility solutions can be as simple as a handrail or as complex as a powered stairlift. No matter the solution, the goal is the same – to provide a senior with additional independence and safety.
To do this, mobility specialists can provide their senior clients with the following:
- Auto lifts
- Platform lifts
- Patient lifts
- Powered scooters
- Home elevators
- Bathroom handrails and other safety equipment
Every senior’s accessibility and mobility needs differ, so before settling on a particular solution a mobility specialist will provide a free in-home consultation first. During this consultation, the mobility specialist will note any potential hazards or concerns in the home. Further, the specialist will take measurements in the home to determine what equipment is the best fit. If loss of mobility is an emerging concern, this consultation will help determine the appropriate next step.
What are some signs that accessibility and mobility assistance is needed?
Sometimes it’s clear that mobility or accessibility assistance is required, but in many cases, seniors slowly lose their ability to move over time. To detect this, physicians use simple tests to determine if a patient is likely to require mobility assistance soon. For example:
Get Up and Go Test
During this test, the patient is asked to rise out of a chair, walk about 10 feet, turn around, walk back to the chair and sit down. This test is timed and physicians believe any time of 20 seconds or more indicates the need for assistance. Patients that take 30 seconds or longer to complete the test are considered at risk for falls.
Walking and climbing test
The University of Alabama has also published a mobility test that some physicians use. During the test, patients are asked only two questions. One, if the patient has any difficulty walking one-quarter of a mile or if they have difficulty climbing up 10 stairs. Two, if the patient has altered the way they walk or climb stairs due to this difficulty. If the patient has changed their movement in either case, this a sign that mobility issues may soon appear.
There are also some health conditions that are considered risk factors for loss of mobility. They include:
- Osteoarthritis, which can occur as joint cartilage wears down.
- Neuropathy, which can be a symptom or complication of diabetes.
- Heart and lung conditions, which can cause dizziness or shortness of breath, both of which can discourage a senior from remaining active.
Injuries, especially falls, can also cause ongoing pain or loss of flexibility that can give rise to worsening mobility. As seniors are more susceptible to a range of injuries, a single fall can leave a senior in need of mobility assistance.
Why should seniors consider accessibility and mobility aides?
Accessibility and mobility aides can provide a significant boost in quality of life to seniors, whether they are aging in place or living in an assisted care facility. Here’s how:
Accessibility and mobility solutions offer independence
Seniors value independence, and according to a study by AARP, about 90 percent would prefer to age at home. Accessibility and mobility solutions can help make this possible by ensuring seniors can move freely about their home or outside of it.
They can also help seniors who live in multi-story homes
Stairlifts and elevators provide seniors with an easy, comfortable way to move between floors. If a senior wants to age in place in their multi-story home, one of these solutions can make it much easier to do so.
They also protect seniors from injury
Seniors that have mobility issues are more likely to experience slips, falls and other accidents leading to injury. Mobility and accessibility devices help seniors stay stable and comfortable while moving, reducing the likelihood that they will lose their balance.
What accessibility and mobility solutions are available for outdoor use?
With some mobility and accessibility solutions, seniors can take their newfound independence outside, allowing them to visit friends and family, and do some shopping. Some options built for outdoor use include:
Outdoor stairlifts function much like their indoor counterparts, but they are built with weatherproof materials. An outdoor stairlift is ideal for properties that have a multistory deck or entry path, so seniors can access their back or front yards without fear of falling.
Powered chairs and scooters
Powered chairs and scooters can be used outside or at the store, so they can provide seniors with much more independence. Powered chairs are like standard wheelchairs, only motorized, so they fit into tighter spaces and can be used inside. Powered scooters are designed for seniors who have trouble walking longer distances, so they are ideal for use outside of the home.
A vehicle lift is used to elevate a powered scooter or chair into a vehicle or out of it. It’s an essential addition for seniors that plan on using their powered scooter away from home.
To maintain independence and quality of life, seniors must maintain their mobility as well. Solutions like stairlifts, elevators and powered chairs or scooters make this possible, and a mobility specialist can help their clients pick the best one for their needs.