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Choosing Correct Equipment If You Have Limited Mobility

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By Author: Derry Hall
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Using special equipment can make a significant difference to a person’s quality of life in old age. As one’s flexibility and strength decreases, routine tasks become more difficult. Using the bathroom or even getting dressed without help can feel like huge mountains to overcome. While in some cases this can lead to the need of a carer or nurse, using mobility aids can delay this for a long period of time. Independence is something most elderly people value highly, so their use is becoming more popular.

Assessing someone’s degree of ‘mobility’ is a first step towards picking the correct equipment. In the strictest sense, it means in relation to the ability to walk unaided. If they can, how far? The individual may need a mobility scooter, a rollator or simply a walking stick when out and about, but be fine unaided while at home. Support rails placed in useful places can provide resting points and provide a sense of security.

For people unable to walk for any sustained distances, using mobility scooters, wheelchairs and even stairlifts may become part of everyday life. Lightweight walking frames with or without wheels are also popular. Correctly adapting the home for their use is critical. Fitting ramps for thresholds up short flights of stairs is a common home modification.

Particularly in old age, ‘mobility’ relates to the question of hand and general body dexterity. This is a question when assessing if a person may benefit from the use of mobility aids. Are they able to bend down and put on shoes or socks? Do they have the flexibility and strength in their hands and fingers to do up buttons or zips? Are they flexible enough to reach over their shoulder to pull-over the arm of a shirt, for example? Selecting the correct aids for the elderly people who are facing these issues is vital.

Reaching and Gripping Aids

Devices are available which extend the person’s reach, reducing the need to stretch. These including reaching aids or grabbers, which have a trigger on the handle and grasping jaws at the other end. Other items make it easier to put on socks, while the classic long-handled shoehorn helps with shoes.

In the bathroom, restrictions on one’s mobility can cause everyday problems. Washing can be hard when it’s difficult to reach certain parts of the body. Long-handled bathroom tools can help. Wide hand grips which attach to toothbrushes make them easier to control for people with a tremor.

The process of getting in and out of the bath can also cause difficulty for those with reduced mobility. Installing bath steps to reduce the height of the bath can help. Inside the bathtub itself, a bath seat may also be of benefit. Its use reduces the height which one has to raise one’s body to get in and out. A bath seat often has suckers on the base, meaning it will not move around, even under water. A non-slip sitting surface reduces the chance of accidents.

Using standard kitchen-ware can also become challenging. Many elderly people develop tremors, making the use of utensils difficult and sometimes dangerous. Strength in the fingers may also lessen, making it difficult to prepare food. Devices like push-button electric tin openers or items which grip food for cutting are useful.

Many elderly people enjoy gardening and here too mobility aids are available to help. Some individuals may struggle to kneel down and stand up unaided. Gardening ‘kneelers’ with support handles make this process easier.

Garden tools with special grips are also effective. These usually have handles which are set at such an angle that reduces the amount of strength required to use them. These grips are also broader than on normal tools. Again, this feature is of benefit for people with a weak grip or hand tremors. Most find the enlarged grips make the tools easier to control.

More About the Author

Essential Aids provides disability aids, mobility equipment and rehabilitation products to people in the UK.

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