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Mobility Issues

Are you worried about an older person’s mobility and want to know how to improve mobility in elderly or support them with mobility equipment for elderly? This article investigates reasons for mobility issues and contains information on mobility solutions.

No, mobility issues can occur in younger people as well.

In their study, Iezzoni et al (2001) found that 10.1% of their participants (US residents over 18 years of age representing national population estimates) reported some sort of mobility difficulty. Those reporting minor, moderate, or major mobility difficulties were, on average, between 59 to 67 years old. 32% of those who reported major difficulties said that their issues began when they were 50 years old or younger. Interestingly, the study also found that mobility issues were more likely in people with poor education, obesity, frequent depression or anxiety, and those living alone.

Mobility issues in younger people can often occur after an accident or injury.

Common factors that lead to loss of mobility include:

  1. Older age
  2. Low physical activity
  3. Obesity
  4. Impaired strength and balance
  5. Impaired vision or hearing
  6. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and arthritis.

Less common factors include:

  1. Depression
  2. Problems with memory or thinking skills
  3. A recent hospitalization
  4. Drinking alcohol or smoking

Individuals experiencing one or more of the above factors can be at risk for immobility.

For health or physical reasons, do you have difficulty climbing up 10 steps or walking one-quarter of a mile? Because of underlying health or physical reasons, have you modified the way you climb 10 steps or walk a quarter of a mile? If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of these questions, we recommend contacting a doctor or one of our allied health professionals to discuss potential mobility issues and how we can help improve your mobility.

Other signs that can indicate mobility issues are:

  1. Unsteadiness while walking
  2. Difficulty getting in and out of a chair, bed, or car.
  3. Frequent falls
  4. Muscle weakness
  5. Joint problems
  6. Pain
  7. Disease condition that may either make you result to bed rest or immobility.
  • Stay active. A regular program of exercise can strengthen muscles and improve flexibility. Our therapists can design a structured exercise program that suits your needs and goals.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and a healthy diet. It’s easier for your body to move around without carrying extra weight and it causes less stress on your joints.
  • Check the possible influence of medications. If you experience drowsiness, distraction and/or frequent falls, we recommend speaking to your GP, especially if you feel that your medications might be affecting your balance or alertness.
  • Identify fall hazards in the home and eliminate them. Our therapist can conduct a home assessment for you to ensure your home is safe for you to minimise your risks of falls.
  • Ask our therapists to check on mobility equipment for elderly. Our therapists will make sure the cane or walker is adjusted to the right height and can teach you how to use it.
  • Test vision and hearing regularly. Seeing poorly or not hearing well can cause mobility problems and lead to falls. You may need to see an optometrist to ensure your vision is clear
  • Make sure proper footwear is worn. Sturdy, well-fitted, low- or flat-heeled shoes with good grip and support are recommended. During bad weather, indoor exercise is recommended.
  • Create opportunities for socialising. Look for community activities that are available in your location. Check with local hospitals, senior centres, and community centres to see if they offer mobility solutions for elderly, like exercise or walking programs. An exercise or walking partner can help improve mobility in elderly as well.
  • Medical alert services can provide peace of mind. If you worry about a senior having an
    emergency while alone, consider a medical alert service to connect him or her to help 24/7, at the push of a button.
  • Don’t help too much. Don’t do everything for someone because you are afraid that something might happen as he or she needs to stay active and most likely prefers to remain independent.
  • Tell the doctor about mobility problems and mention any falls. Certain diseases like arthritis can affect mobility. Risks can often be reduced if the medical condition is diagnosed and treated. Treating the underlying cause is a great start to minimise your risk of getting mobility issues.

Yes. You may be surprised by how simple these tests are. One of the tests includes ‘Get Up and Go Test’ or ‘Timed Up and Go Test’ which involves asking a person to stand up from sitting in a chair, walk 10 feet (=approx. 3 metres), turn around, walk back to the chair, and sit down. How long it takes and how steady the person is while walking can then be noted. Another method is to just watch how quickly people walk. According to this, if you can walk one yard (= 0.94 metres) per second, or even faster, you are in the normal range. However, if you are slower, you may have a gait problem as this increases your chance of falling.

Other mobility tests, depending on the demographics and/or previous fitness level of a person can include:

  • Deep Squat
  • Hurdle Step
  • In-line Lunge
  • Active Straight-leg Raise
  • Trunk Stability Push-up
  • Rotary Stability
  • Shoulder Mobility
  • 10 meters walk test
  • Elderly mobility scale
  • Functional reach
  • Tinetti test
  • Community balance and mobility scale
  • Physical mobility scale

These tests can be conducted by our therapists to assess the category of mobility issues that you have got. Our therapists will assess your situation and decide on the right methods/tests to assess your mobility. Our therapists can also identify other factors that can impact your mobility and refer on to the best health professional to address your problem.

The long-term effects of not moving and remaining in one position for an extended period can have an impact on almost all body systems. Some of these effects may include:

  • Dizziness or giddiness when getting out of bed. This may be related to postural hypotension
  • Reduced cardiovascular endurance which generally impacts your walking as a noticeably short distance walk may become very tiring.
  • Reduced muscle mass or what we commonly call muscle wasting
  • Reduced muscle strength
  • Muscle shortening
  • Joint contractures
  • Reduced bone density
  • Increased risk of falls/injury
  • Pain
  • Skin breakdown
  • Confusion and depression

Our therapist can conduct a functional mobility assessment to make recommendations for mobility equipment for elderly that can be required for independent living. These assessments focus on the following:

  • Bed mobility
  • Transfers
  • Walking
  • Wheelchair mobility
  • Accessing toilets
  • Getting in and out of a car
  • Driving and taking public transport

As a result of these assessments, recommendations may include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Cleaning and laundering aids
  • Kitchen and laundry fixtures
  • Can and jar openers
  • Preparing and cooking utensils
  • Customised scissors
  • Handrails
  • Shower rails
  • Ramps
  • Easy-to-use taps
  • Trays and over-bed tables
  • Reaching and turning aids
  • Walking and standing aids
  • Dressing and grooming aids
  • Remote control devices
  • Sitting and sleeping support
  • Slip resistant mats and grip aids
  • Scooters, wheelchairs and wheelie walkers
  • Intercom and emergency call systems.

Yes. Our therapists can conduct a full assessment to identify factors impacting her mobility and give advice on how to improve mobility in elderly. Our therapists may focus on the following treatment plan:

  1. Pain management
  2. Immediate mobility aid needs to commence walking as soon as possible, which may include determining if she needs a brace, splint or some form of joint support
  3. A home modification assessment which can be conducted by our occupational therapists
  4. If needed, a referral to her GP in case our therapist suggests are underlying medical conditions that are contributing to her mobility issues and need to be addressed.
  5. Improvement in gait, balance, muscle flexibility, muscle endurance and muscle strength.
  6. Falls prevention programs


Overall, Physiotherapy can help by enhancing the level of mobility the individual is currently at by using a variety of treatment techniques. Our therapists aim to provide mobility solution for elderly that allow them to live independent, improve their mobility (with full compliance of the client) and improve the client’s self-confidence with mobility. Providing and educating on walking aids, as well as the education of carers on manual handling techniques plays an important role in improving a client’s mobility.

If you are concerned about someone’s mobility, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can help with a mobility assessment and give advice on how to improve mobility in elderly, but also younger individuals.

Want to book an appointment?
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team!



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