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Health 407 views Aug 06, 2019
Signs of mobility issues in the elderly

Slowing down is a natural part of ageing – so how do you know the difference between what’s normal and when there’s a real issue with mobility?


Getting old inevitably means muscles and joints don’t work as well as they used to. It’s natural to take longer to walk to the shops, or to find carrying the shopping back again a little harder. One of the best ways to avoid mobility issues is to keep active for as long as possible, which can also help improve mental health and help retain independence, but sometimes nature has other ideas and conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, heart disease and obesity can make moving around difficult.

Causes of mobility problems

According to Live-in Care Hub one of the biggest causes of mobility problems is falling. Falls can result in broken bones, more common in the elderly as bone density decreases with age, and loss of confidence which in turn can reduce mobility and compound the problem. Even minor slips and stumbles can shake an elderly person’s confidence in themselves.


Heart disease can be another reason older people don’t move around as much. If activity brings on angina, breathlessness or a racing pulse the sufferer may start to be less mobile, especially out of the home.


Obesity can sometimes cause issues with mobility, with fat deposits making it harder for muscles to work. Not all obesity is caused simply by poor diet – diabetes, a common complaint in later years, can make the body stockpile fat reserves.

Signs to look out for

Mobility problems can occur instantly – as the result of a fall for example, or can gradually become apparent. If you are caring for an elderly person it can be important to take time regularly to assess their  needs, and arrange the appropriate homecare services  to support their independence.

Signs to watch out for include:

  • taking longer to answer the door
  • a lack of fresh food in the house
  • not seeing friends or attending clubs for several days, missing appointments
  • standards of housework or tidiness deteriorating
  • finding it harder to stand up or sitting down unsteadily
  • having difficulties with stairs, even just in one direction
  • finding it hard to balance when walking, appearing unsteady


What should I do if I notice a problem?

Mobility issues can lead to reduced mobility which can lead to further mobility problems. It is important that the issue is brought to the attention of the doctor caring for the elderly person. Some medications can cause balance problems, and if the symptoms are identified the dose can be altered or medication changed to avoid the problem getting worse.

Encouraging movement can help strengthen muscles and improve balance. Suggest a walk in the garden or park. A good way to get exercise is to go swimming or attend an aquafit class – some areas have specialist sessions for older swimmers where the water is warmer and the atmosphere is calmer.

Ensure trip hazards are removed from the home to guard against falls. Dementia sufferers can have problems with spatial awareness to make sure you keep doors clear and take up rugs.