Loss of Mobility and Impacts on Quality of Life in Seniors
Mobility and its importance for someone’s quality of life are frequently overlooked. Too often, individuals do not realize the importance of movement until it is gone. In the elderly population, a loss of mobility can lead to serious impacts on their quality of life. Mobility is so important because it can:
- Help prevent injuries from happening. If someone is mobile and flexible, their muscles, bones, and joints are better able to handle the stress of daily activity.
- Help people build lean body tissue such as muscle. Mobility leads to an increase in the range of motion which increases muscle tissue.
- Lead to an improved overall quality of life. Those who are more mobile can move from place to place without pain. Individuals have an easier time bending over or reaching up to perform tasks around the house.
Unfortunately, as people age, their mobility naturally decreases. For other individuals, serious injuries can lead to a marked reduction in mobility.
Natural Changes in Mobility with Age
As people get older, some natural body changes are going to lead to a reduction in mobility. These changes can make it harder for people to perform daily activities. Some of the changes that occur with aging can affect:
- Muscle Mass: After the age of 30, adults will naturally start to lose lean muscle mass from year to year. This reduction in muscle mass can lead to a decrease in muscle strength, impacting mobility.
- Bone Mass: Bone mass will also decrease with age as well. Bone mass peaks at about 30 years of age. After this, individual start to lose bone mass. This can also impact mobility.
- Flexibility: Finally, flexibility will also decrease as people age. At the range of motion in the joints decreases, individuals will notice that they are not as mobile as they used to be.
These changes in mobility can impact the ability of elderly individuals to run errands, perform tasks around the house, and enjoy their hobbies. Unfortunately, there are also some serious traumatic injuries that could lead to a reduction in mobility as well.
Traumatic Injuries Can Lead to a Serious Reduction in Mobility
Even though there are natural changes that occur with aging that can impact mobility, traumatic injuries can have an impact as well. Any injury that leads to changes in the function of muscles, bones, or nerves can lead to a serious decrease in someone’s mobility at any age. Some of the injuries that can have this effect include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries: The brain is responsible for all motor and sensory function throughout the body. If an individual suffers a traumatic brain injury, such as in an auto accident or slip and fall injury, they may not be able to move her arms and legs as well as they previously could.
Bone Fractures: Broken arms and broken legs, such as femur fractures and humerus fractures, could also lead to long-term impacts on mobility. Those who suffer bone fractures at a later age may never fully recover.
Muscle Injuries: Like other injuries, muscle sprain and strains can range from relatively mild to extremely serious. In some cases, individuals may tear muscles entirely. These could require surgical repair. A torn muscle can lead to marked reductions and strength, reflux ability, and mobility.
Injuries that impact mobility could occur at any age. If an elderly individual suffers a traumatic injury, the recovery process was often prolonged. In some cases, they might never make a full recovery. This can lead to permanent impacts on their mobility.
Quality of Life Can Suffer Due to Poor Mobility
Mobility plays a huge role in someone’s quality of life. If individuals suffer from poor mobility, numerous areas of their life will be impacted. Some of the ways that reduced mobility can impact an elderly individual’s quality of life include:
Independence: If people are mobile, they can perform activities around the house, run errands around town, and engage in numerous hobbies.
Activities of Daily Living: There are plenty of activities around the house that require some degree of mobility. To clean, people need to bend over to reach the floor and other lower surfaces. People also need to be able to reach above her head to clean things such as cabinets and windowsills. While this may not seem challenging during the younger years, these tasks may become excruciating for those with poor mobility in their later years. What used to take a few minutes may end up taking a few hours due to decreases in strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
Yardwork: It is no secret that yardwork requires a tremendous amount of mobility. Pushing a lawnmower is challenging without adequate muscle strength and flexibility. Removing weeds requires strong back and leg muscles to bend over repeatedly. Spreading pine needles and mulch stresses similar muscle groups. Those who suffer from poor mobility will have trouble with yard work.
Enjoying Hobbies: Hobbies are an essential part of someone’s quality of life. Families often like to enjoy certain hobbies together. Furthermore, during the retirement years, hobbies also help to keep the mind sharp and the muscles strong. Unfortunately, due to poor mobility, people may lose the ability to enjoy these hobbies. Without adequate capacity, individuals may not be able to play certain sports, run, or even walk. This can lead to a serious reduction in one’s quality of life.
Overall Mental Health: Losing the ability to engage in any of the above activities could lead to boredom, loneliness, and depression. Maintaining mobility is essential for keeping one’s quality of life as high as possible.
Improving Mobility: The Treatment Options
Those who suffer from poor mobility should know that there are specific treatment options available. Mobility is typically graded in a clinical setting. Some of the aspects that trained healthcare professionals could analyze include:
- The strength of certain muscle groups
- The range of motion of the various joints
- The flexibility of the numerous muscles, ligaments, and tendons
In some cases, there might be a general reduction in the mobility of the muscles as a whole. In other situations, there might be a single muscle that has been impacted due to injury. Regardless, some of the treatment options include:
Address the Acute Injuries: For those who suffer from poor mobility due to a traumatic injury, this needs to be treated. This might consist of surgery to repair a torn muscle or casting to fix a bone fracture. Once this injury heals, people should notice an improvement in their mobility.
Physical Therapy: Once the injury has been healed, physical therapy plays a crucial role in restoring muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Physical therapy is also essential for those who haven’t been injured. Building muscle strength and flexibility is important not only for injury recovery but also for injury prevention. Physical therapy can help people stay mobile.
Balance Training: There is also balance training available for improved mobility. Balance training in the elderly population has become essential for someone’s quality of life. The goal of balance training is to prevent falls from happening. Falls in the elderly population could lead to severe fractures from which they may never recover. Improved balance leads to increased flexibility and injury prevention.
All of these treatments play a critical role in improving mobility in the elderly population. Injury treatment and injury prevention can help people stay mobile. This leads to an improved quality of life. There are also lifestyle changes that people should make in their younger years to prevent mobility reduction during their later years.
Preventing the Development of Poor Mobility
Preventing poor mobility is dependent on diet and exercise. These lifestyle choices can have tremendous impacts on someone’s quality of life. Those who lead a healthy lifestyle can preserve their mobility during their elderly years. Some of the ways that people can build and maintain their mobility include:
Calcium and Vitamin D: Calcium and vitamin D are two nutrients that are required to build strong balance. As mentioned earlier, most people reach therapeutic bone mass around age 30. This means that before age 30, everyone should be taking steps to build strong bones. Calcium is found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. As sunlight strikes the skin, the body makes vitamin D. To keep vitamin D levels high, individuals should make sure that they’re spending time outside regularly.
Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise is crucial for mobility. By appropriately exercising the muscle groups, individuals with build muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Strong muscles are better able to support the bones, preventing bone fractures. Flexible muscles are also less likely to tear.
Watch YouTube Video: How to Maintain Mobility in Older People. The animated video below explains how older people can maintain mobility.
Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a Personal Injury Lawyer in Sacramento. Those who have poor mobility following an injury can suffer serious impacts on their quality of life. In the elderly population, this can have long-lasting complications. If you or a family member has suffered a loss of mobility following a severe injury, please give me a call at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly legal advice.
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