Staying mobile to stay independent

Advice articles
Staying mobile to stay independent

Whether you’re taking care of a friend or family member, or wanting to keep your own independence as you get older, there’s no denying the importance of mobility.

There are two distinct reasons why mobility is so important to protect as you get older. Firstly, it allows you to do the ‘activities of daily living’ (known as ADLs); secondly, it helps to keep you socially connected.

So what can you do to protect or even regain your mobility?

Staying mobile to stay independent

Too often people end up in aged care because of a broken hip or fall, which means they immediately lose that all-important mobility and independence. So, how can you make sure you keep your mobility?

The importance of staying mobile as you age

Whether you’re taking care of a friend or family member, or wanting to keep your own independence as you get older, there’s no denying the importance of mobility.

There are two distinct reasons why mobility is so important to protect as you get older. It means you can:

  • Do the ‘activities of daily living’ (known as ADLs)
  • Be socially connected and more easily able to interact with others

When you think about it, even going to see the doctor requires reasonable mobility and provides social activity. Mobility gives people the flexibility to interact with their community – from family and friends, to their doctor or the staff at the supermarket.

Four things to help you stay mobile

  • The benefits of walking for older adults

Walking has always been part of older people’s lives and continuing to walk regularly is the best advice for ageing well. It’s a social activity, as well as an opportunity to connect with family and friends. Walking doesn’t require equipment and is low risk, so it’s the perfect way to get around.

  • Maintaining the sit-to-stand – staying independent at home

The sit-to-stand motion allows a person to get up from a chair, get out of a car and get off the toilet. Once you lose the ability to stand from a seated position, your mobility is significantly decreased. Sitting and standing several times in a row is a great daily exercise for staying active and independent at home.

  • Incorporating incidental exercise wherever possible

Incidental exercise is a great way to build and maintain fitness. It can be as simple as parking a little further away from the supermarket and walking a little further to get there. Or it could mean doing your own vacuuming, rather than getting help in. Instead of looking for ways to make tasks easier, see if you can find ways to make them physically harder.

  • Seeking help for balance impairment

Balance impairment is something you might experience as the years tick by and it’s tricky to improve on your own. Balance needs to be challenged to be improved and working with a trained professional is your best bet to safely achieve better balance.

What to remember

Maintaining and/or improving mobility is fundamental to ageing well. From incidental exercise to seeking professional help for a balance impairment, there are plenty of ways you can help yourself to maintain mobility.

As well as staying mobile, it’s equally important to have meaningful relationships and activities, and stay up to date on things. Consider how you can continue to stay connected to others, and how your friends can do the same. To learn more about the importance of staying socially connected, see our article on the power of friendship.

If you’re caring for a friend or family member as they get older, you may be wondering how you can help them maintain their mobility so they don’t feel isolated and alone. Or you may be concerned that they’re limiting their mobility due to a fear of falling. Talk to the person involved about what they value and want to do as they get older, and then consider seeking advice and support.