4 Ways to Ensure You’re Using Mobility Aids Safely

using a walking aid safetly

Using mobility aids safely is the most important thing that the elderly and disabled can do to ensure that when they walk, they’re at a low risk of injury. However, most often people that use mobility aids may choose to purchase and take them home without learning how to to use them properly.

There are a lot of considerations that go into choosing a mobility aid, and they include:

1.     Picking the Right Device

using a walking aid safelyThe right device is a necessity. You may need a cane, or a walker, or something completely different. It’s essential to pick the right mobility aid so that you can be secure when walking and also not using a device that limits your natural movement.

One of the worst things a person can do is lessen their mobility by choosing a mobility aid that is overkill.

An example of this would be a person choosing to use a walker when they really need a cane. In this case, they’ll:

  • Remain very stable, but
    • Lose mobility speed and agility
    • Weaken muscles over time

Those who use only a cane will be using their backs, hips and other muscles more than a person that uses a walker.

A general rule of thumb is that:

  • Canes are needed when there are only balance issues that aren’t too severe. Quad canes can be chosen for a person that needs a little more stability than with a normal cane.
  • Walkers are needed when a person suffers from severe balance deficits. A person may need a walker if they have issues with weight bearing. For example, a person may need a walker following knee surgery while they can’t put all of their weight on their knee without pain or buckling.

The right device is essential for your safety. A physician or physical therapist will be able to offer their guidance as to which mobility device you can use safely.

2.     Proper Fit Reduces Safety Issues

A proper size is required to ensure that the mobility aid is able to produce the right amount of support for the user. The right fit depends on:

  • Weight
  • Height

Anyone who is on the heavier side will want to make sure that the device is able to support their weight. For example, a person that is 500 pounds would need a wider seated wheelchair and a model that can hold people that are 500 pounds.

For the most part, people under 300 pounds won’t have to worry about this too much.

The height of the mobility aid will matter a lot. Wheelchairs are more universal, but custom options do exist for anyone who will be using their wheelchair for the long-term.

How do you properly adjust a cane or walker?

  • Cane: When the cane is hanging straight down the side, the top of the cane should reach the crease of the waist. Your elbow should be at around a 15-degree angle. If the arm is fully extended, the cane is fit too low.
  • Walker: Place the walker in front of you, and allow your hands to hang normally at your side. The top of the walker will need to reach the crease of the waist. When your hands are on the handles, your elbows should be bent approximately 15 degrees.

If you don’t have a properly fitting mobility aid, you’re at a higher risk of injury.

3.     Comfort Means a Lot

Comfort and stability mean everything when it comes to a mobility aid. Some people find that their cane causes the skin on their hands to burn, or if the mobility aid isn’t fitted right, it can lead to a lot of discomfort.

There are also times when a mobility aid may actually limit your movement.

a rollator mobility aidA standard walker will need to be lifted and moved with each step. This means you’ll walk slower and the walker may be too heavy and uncomfortable. You may need a rollator instead. A rollator is a walker on wheels and will offer a faster walking experience, lighter weight and more overall function.

Pain or discomfort shouldn’t be the result of using a mobility aid.

You can try to adjust the handle or height of the mobility aid. There may also be accessories or added padding that will allow for the mobility aid to be more comfortable.

If nothing seems to work to reduce the aches, pains or discomfort, you may want to try and choose a new mobility aid, or ask your therapist what can be done to lessen or eliminate the pain altogether.

4.     Properly Use the Mobility Aid

Using mobility aids safely will require you to use the mobility aid properly. This sounds trivial, but a lot of people don’t use their devices properly. A few tips to using a mobility aid properly, are:

  • Cane: Hold the cane on the side which is strongest. Take a step forward with your bad leg and move the cane forward at the same time. This allows you to bear weight on your bad leg and the cane at the same time.
  • Crutches: Normal crutches should be squeezed under your arms as you move them 6” to 12” forward. Place your weight on your hands, ensure you have proper balance and then move forward.
  • Walker: Walkers are meant for the utmost in support and weight bearing. Bring the walker forward followed by walking forward towards the walker. Step forward with your weaker leg first followed by your stronger leg. Click here to see which walker is suitable for you.

With these safety tips in mind, you’ll be on the right path to using your mobility aid properly and safely.

7 Senior-Friendly Hand Exercises to Combat Arthritis

hand exercises for arthritis

Arthritis leads to the degeneration of cartilage in the joints, which normally acts as a cushion between bones. As we age, the wearing-away of cartilage can irritate and inflame the synovial lining of the joint, which is what produces the fluid that lubricates and protects the joints. While arthritis can affect any of the joints in your body, the hands are one of the most commonly afflicted areas, and can lead to pain and stiffness.

Medications are available to treat the pain, but a dose of good old-fashioned exercise can help you keep your hands as limber as possible. These seven hand exercises are senior-friendly and can be performed just about anywhere.

1.     Finger Bends

A simple exercise that keeps the joints in your fingers moving. For best results, perform these bends on each individual finger of both hands.

How to Perform Finger Bends

  • Begin by holding up your right hand straight.
  • Bend your thumb downward in the direction of your palm.
  • Hold the bend for two to five seconds.
  • Straighten your thumb.
  • Repeat on each finger on the right hand.
  • Repeat the entire sequence on the opposite hand.

2.     Make a Fist

While this may seem like a simple exercise, the movements performed when making a fist can help alleviate tension while improving the movement in your finger joints.

How to Make a Fist

  • Start by holding your right hand up and straight (as if you were going to shake someone’s hand). Keep your wrist and forearm close to a tabletop or another flat surface.
  • Close your fingers together to create a gentle fist. Try not to squeeze your fingers into your palms.
  • Slowly and gently return your fingers to the starting position.
  • Repeat multiple times on each hand.

3.     Thumb Bends

This exercise targets the thumbs specifically, and is ideal for seniors who regularly engage in repetitive-motion tasks.

How to Perform a Thumb Bend

  • Start by holding your right hand up and straight – just like you did with the previous exercise.
  • Bend your thumb down and inward toward your palm.
  • The goal is to reach for the bottom of your pinky finger, but don’t worry if you cannot reach that far just yet.
  • Hold the bend for a few seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Repeat on the left hand.

4.     Make a “C”

To get the joints in your upper fingers and lower thumb moving, try performing this simple “C” exercise.

How to Make a “C” With Your Hands

  • Begin with your right hand up and your fingers straight.
  • Curve your fingers downward and your thumb out and to the side to create a “C” shape.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat multiple times on your right hand.
  • Repeat on the left hand.

5.     Finger Lifts

Designed to strengthen each finger, finger lifts will help restore mobility while giving tight hand muscles a good stretch.

How to Perform Finger Lifts

  • Start with your hand palm-side down on the table.
  • Lift your thumb slowly off the table.
  • Hold for two seconds.
  • Gently lower your thumb back down.
  • Repeat on each finger.
  • Repeat the entire sequence on the opposite hand.

6.     Wrist Stretches

Arthritis can extend all the way down to the wrists, which can make it difficult to perform tasks like typing on a computer, opening a jar and cleaning your home. Wrist stretches can help alleviate tension while improving mobility in this important area.

How to Perform Wrist Stretches

  • Begin with your right arm stretched out in front of you, hands flat.
  • Gently press down on your right hand. The tips of your fingers should be facing the floor.
  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Repeat on the left hand.

7.     Give the Okay

This exercise will work each of your fingers while giving your palm a good stretch. The movement will work both the top and bottom joints of the fingers.

  • Begin with your hand up and straight (as if you were going to shake someone’s hand).
  • Create an “O” shape by touching your thumb to your index fingertip.
  • Next, touch your thumb to your middle fingertip.
  • Repeat the same movement on the remaining fingers.
  • Repeat the sequence multiple times.
  • Repeat the entire exercise on the opposite hand.

These 7 exercises can help alleviate joint pain while restoring mobility and building strength. Whether you’re already showing signs of arthritis or are looking to take preventative measures, these exercises will keep your hands and fingers healthy.

Your hand strength is very important is you are using a walking aid. Especially more mobile models like a 3 wheeled rollator (visit this page to see our recommended models). Aids like these are less stable and require more hand strength to operate.

Improving the strength of your entire body is also important to reduce the reliance on walking aids or other devices. Yoga is another great way to stay healthy, strong and flexible as you age.

Yoga: Stretching and Exercise for Enhanced Mobility in Seniors

seniors doing yoga

Seniors should aim for functional strength and flexibility. You won’t see many seniors trying to bench press 200 pounds or squat 300 pounds of weight. And I’m pretty sure there are quite a few that could achieve these feats.

The reason seniors need to work on functional exercises is because atrophy and flexibility loss occurs in a lot of people. Bad knees, shoulders and joints may also cause the inability to perform some exercises.

The right exercises and stretching will help a senior enhance their mobility.

Yoga for Seniors

Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise a person can engage in no matter the age. The great thing about yoga is that a person can gain and maintain muscle, and yoga helps you maintain and gain flexibility, too. However, don’t jump into a high-tempo yoga class with a bunch of 20-year-olds and expect to keep up.

Try a yoga for seniors groups in your area – there will be quite a few. Yoga is great for increasing strength and will keep you away from needing to use a walking aid, such as a rollator, for much longer.

Stretching for seniors is also very important. The beauty of yoga is that it provides stretching as well as muscle gain. A few of the other many benefits that yoga offers are:

  • Arthritis pain relief
  • Muscle and strength gain
  • Decrease in fasting blood sugar levels
  • Mood elevation
  • Increased flexibility
  • Pain relief

So, what are you waiting for? Join a group in your area today.

Stretching Exercises for Elderly People

Seniors need a little more attention when it comes to the way that they exercise. Excess weight or difficult movements can result in injury, leaving you out of commission or confined to a wheelchair for months – not a good thing.

Stretching needs to be done gently and safely.

Added flexibility will also help a person live a more fulfilled life. Some of the difficult things to do when you’re too tight are:

  • Reach items on the top shelf
  • Bend over and pick up items
  • Sit straight

Tight muscles can also lead to pain or injury in some cases. Walking can be more difficult, too. A person with tight hamstrings may have difficulty maintaining a full stride, or a person may not be able to take a large enough step to go down a step comfortably.

Easy stretching exercises for seniors that are recommended are:

  1. Neck Stretch: Stretch the neck to both sides, forward and backward, holding each stretch for 30 seconds at a time.
  2. Shoulder Stretch: Shoulder stretches can be done in a variety of ways. Place your elbows on a counter, step backward and bend forward to stretch the shoulders. You can also grasp the top of a door or walk your fingers up the wall leaning forward to further stretch the shoulders.
  3. Ankle Stretch: The ankles may get tight, and there are multiple ways to stretch them. Cross your legs and use your hand to stretch the ankle side to side. Then, stand with your palms against the wall (in a pushing motion) and move one leg behind you with the toes of the forward leg against the wall. Bend the front leg until you feel a stretch.
  4. Back Stretch: Sitting on a chair, twist to one side while grasping the back of the chair to further the stretch as needed.
  5. Hamstring Stretch: Sitting on a bed, keep your legs straight with your toes up to the ceiling. Bend forward trying to grasp your toes to stretch out the hamstring.
  6. Groin Stretch: Sitting on a bed or on the floor, place the soles of your feet together to enter the butterfly position. Using your hands, gently push downward to the floor to stretch the groin.

Every workout for seniors must include stretching exercises so that a person can perform other exercises with full range of motion.

You want to follow easy stretching exercises that have a variety of intensities to be able to truly benefit from a stretching program.

Yoga offers a variety of difficulties that allow people with a number of mobility ranges to be able to work their way up to harder stretches. This is why so many physical therapists are recommending that their patients do yoga to stay fit and healthy.

If you feel confident with weight training, you can add this to your routine. Just make sure that you stick to lower weights at first to avoid injury before progressing. When it comes to exercising, the benefits can lead to a happier, longer and mobility-rich lifestyle well into old age.

How to Select the Appropriate Mobility Device to Suit Your Needs

selecting the right mobility device

If you want to know how to select the right mobility device for you, it is always best to discuss your options with a physical therapist or doctor. But there are a lot of circumstances and “hints” that can lead you to choosing the right mobility device.

There are numerous devices to choose from depending on your current physical condition.

Let’s take a look at the most common mobility devices from a top-down view starting with devices for those with an easier time walking down to wheelchairs for people with significant balance- and muscle-related issues.

When to Select a Cane

A cane is ideal for a user that has better balance and can shift weight from one leg to another without any weight bearing concerns. The rule of thumb is that when a person can use a walker with one hand, they’ll likely be able to move to a cane.

Canes can make mobility more fluid and allow for added balance and strength, too.

There are three main cane types:

  • Single Tip: Single tip canes are the most common option. These single tips allow for a lighter overall cane and easier movement.
  • Quad Cane: Quad canes are meant to add more overall support to the user. The benefits of quad canes are that the larger base adds to the support of the cane and can help to eliminate slips and falls. This is a common choice for stroke suffers. The major downside of a quad cane is that it’s awkward to move and position.
  • Forearm Canes: A person that has more problems with weight transfer and balance will do well with forearm canes. These are the choice when progressing from a walker to a cane and will help when both the left and right side if the user has significant strength issues.

If a person is progressing from a walker or wheel chair to a cane, they usually go from forearm to a single tip or quad cane.

When to Select a Walker

A person that needs both hands to balance or has significant weight bearing or transfer issues will need a walker. Even a person that has difficulty sitting up on the end of their bed will find that they can often use a walker. These devices can lead to enhanced mobility and further muscle gain, too.

Walkers can be found in the following:

  • Walking Frame: The standard walker is a walking frame that needs to be picked up and moved with each step. These walkers provide the best overall balance to the user.
  • Wheeled Walker: Quicker and easier to move, the wheeled walker doesn’t need to be picked up to move (great for shoulder injuries). These walkers are best when a person can walk faster and even walk over uneven terrain. A downside is that these walkers are often difficult to use on grass or carpet.
  • Rollators: The rollator has wheels on all four posts vs two stoppers as seen on the wheeled walker. This is ideal for anyone that wants to go on a longer walk and doesn’t need stoppers for added support. Baskets and even seats may be included.
  • Knee Walkers: The knee walker is ideal for temporary use. This one-legged walker is meant for people with weight bearing issues on one leg and are propelled with the good leg. For example, a person with a broken ankle or damaged knee may use a knee walker, but this is not a permanent solution in most circumstances. Go here to see our favorite knee walkers

You’ll also find walkers with seats (good for when a person gets tired) as well as stand-assist bars.

When to Choose a Wheelchair

Paralysis, severe weakness, strokes or a high risk of falling are a few of the reasons why people choose a wheelchair over other mobility devices. There is a myriad of different wheelchair types – both able to be propelled by the user and those propelled by another person.

The most common are:

  • Motorized: The motorized wheelchair propels a user through a built-in battery. This is the choice for someone with little hand and arm function, and even quadriplegics will find options to help them be mobile again.
  • Lightweight: A lightweight wheelchair may or may not be self-propelled, and these wheelchairs are often able to fold to allow for easy transport.
  • Custom: Custom built wheelchairs will be fitted to a user and are often able to come apart rather than fold up.
  • Reclining: A reclining wheelchair is lightweight and a good choice for anyone with hypotension or contractures. This allows for the redistribution of weight to allow for less sores and discomfort when used. Click here to see some of our recommendations.

And you’ll find wheelchairs for airplane usage, active wheelchairs meant for sports and speed as well as standing wheelchairs which can be used prior to learning to stand upright to help with blood pressure-related issues.

When in doubt, discuss your options with a physical or occupational therapist whom will assess your condition and provide recommendations suited to you.

3 Hip Exercises for Seniors That Anyone Can Do

Hip ExercisesFor Seniors

Age is catching up to you, and while you may be active for your age and always on-the-go, hip pain has a way of catching up to you, too. The truth is that the vast majority of seniors have hip weakness or pain.

We’ve all heard the stories of seniors breaking their hips, or the dreadful stories of a senior going to grab onto a counter and falling. This is often caused by weak hip muscles that cause you to lose your balance and try using couches, walls and countertops as a walking aid for stability.

Losing some strength in your elder years is normal. But you don’t have to live with extremely weak hips that can cause you to lose mobility, feel unstable or even succumb to injuries. It’s best to try and strengthen these muscles as soon as you can before you need to use a rollator or a walker for support.

Performing the proper hip exercises for seniors will allow you to remain confident in your balance and walking while also providing you with countless other benefits.

Benefits of Hip and Leg Exercises for Seniors

  • Improve lean muscle mass
  • Boost stability and balance
  • Reduce pain
  • Increases blood flow
  • Increase strength
  • Maintain a healthy weight

And these are just some of the many benefits exercise can help you achieve.

3 Hip Exercises for Seniors

There are a lot of hip exercises you can do as a senior. We’re going to be discussing a few exercises that are easy to moderately-difficult to do in an attempt to build up those weak hip muscles once and for all.

1.      Standing Hip Extensions

Standing hip extensions will work both your butt and your hips. The great thing about this exercise is that it’s easy to perform and you can increase its difficulty with relative ease if you find that it isn’t providing enough of a challenge.

Step 1

Stand with your feet facing the back of a sturdy, non-swivel chair.

Step 2

Grab the top of the chair and use it to balance.

Step 3

Holding on to the chair, keep your right leg as straight as possible and move it backward with the knee straight.

Step 4

Return to the start position and perform the exercise on the other leg. You’ll ideally perform 10 repetitions before resting.

This is as simple as it can get, and the chair will provide you with the added balance you need to confidently perform this exercise while lowering your risk of falling in the process.

Key Form Factors

Form is everything when performing an exercise properly. If you do not maintain proper form, you can hurt yourself or cause more injuries to occur. A few tips to remember when maintaining form are:

  • Maintain proper alignment of your upper body with the ribs lifted during movement. You don’t want to bend your upper body when performing the exercise.
  • Tighten your stomach muscles and remember to exhale during the movement.
  • Keep your knee as straight as possible during the movement.

Making the Exercise Harder

Ankle weights can be added into the mix if you find that the exercise is too easy. Start with just two pounds and progress as necessary.

2.      Standing Hip Flexor

Standing hip flexor exercises work the small muscles in the hips that are responsible for picking up your leg. And when done properly, you’ll also be working your glutes and hip abductors that will be very important when balancing.

This exercise is much like the previous exercise:

Step 1

Stand with your feet facing a sturdy chair and be back far enough to pick your leg up in the air.

Step 2

Hold onto the chair with both hands.

Step 3

Keeping one leg straight, bring the opposing leg up toward your chest with the knee bent. The idea is to bring the knee as close to the chest possible.

Step 4

Place the lifted leg back down on the ground and repeat for 12 – 15 repetitions on each leg.

Key Form Factors

It’s easy to cheat when performing these hip flexor exercises, so you want to maintain proper form to avoid accidental cheating on your part. Here are some tips:

  • Keep the back straight without leaning too far back.
  • You can keep your knees slightly bent to alleviate pressure on bad knees.
  • Lift the leg as high as possible while being able to maintain proper form.

Making the Exercise Harder

Just like with the previous exercise, you can add ankle weights to your routine to make this exercise harder on the hip flexors.

3.      Hip Abductor

The hip abductors are very important for balance, and this exercise is simple and easy while also being very safe. You will want to start with a low-level resistance band.

Step 1
Sit on a chair.

Step 2

Wrap the resistance band around the thighs right above the knee and tie together.

Step 3

Spread your legs apart at the knees using your hips.

Key Form Factors

There are only two main factors you’ll want to pay special attention to when performing this exercise. Form can be kept at optimal levels by:

  • Keeping your back straight against the back of the chair.
  • Abducting the hips from the knees with resistance to your outer thighs.

You should feel resistance in your outer thighs. A burning sensation will be felt after enough repetitions.

Making the Exercise Harder

If you want to make this exercise harder, your best option is to buy a stronger, more difficult resistance band that will add more resistance to your exercise.