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Maintaining Your Independence and Mobility

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Grandmother with walker and little girl in a parkAs you get older, mobility can sometimes become an issue. No one ever wants to need help with mobility and everyone wants to be independent. But sometimes, there are just certain tasks that can become more difficult to do as you get older.

There are certain things you can do to stay independent. But other tasks, you’ll find that it’s easier to delegate them to someone else. Not only that, but forcing yourself to go past what your body is capable of can result in injuries that are permanent or more life-threatening.

You can safely increase your abilities by becoming more flexible, and by strength training and working on your core for balance.

Mobility in Your Daily Living

Staying mobile and independent is what all senior citizens want. They have a strong desire to do what they’ve always done while still living in their own home. With a few adjustments, this is possible.

What those adjustments will need to be depends on your current mobility level – and any issues you may be having with it. Changes can be made in your home that can help with any issues that might cause you problems.

For example, if you have trouble maintaining your balance when you’re getting in and out of the tub, grab rails can be added along the sides of the tub for you to hold onto.

You can also have the toilet raised so that it’s at an easier height for you. You want to remain as active as you possibly can because this helps you retain mobility longer.

Plus, when you’re more active, it helps you maintain your overall health. Aging simply means that your body may slow down, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t do what you enjoy doing – and that includes exercising.

If you don’t currently exercise, you may want to look into getting started. The reason for this is because exercise can help you maintain vitality, good heart health and strong muscles.

Not only that, but staying active can also keep up the dexterity in your limbs. Look for things that you can do that can help keep those muscles moving right. You can take up knitting or cross-stitch to keep your fingers and hands mobile. Working puzzles can also help – as can things like woodcarving.

One of the major motility issues that face people who grow older is accidental falls. This can be because as you age, your balance isn’t what it once was. This can be directly related to blood pressure, certain medications you may be on and losing elasticity in your veins.

So what you want to do is make sure that your home is as fall proof as possible. If you use area rugs in some of the rooms in your home, you may want to put those away. Tripping over a floor rug is a big contributor to falls.

Because you can experience vision changes that come along with getting older, you might find it helpful to sleep with some kind of light on when you go to bed. This way, if you get up in the middle of the night for any reason, you can see well enough to keep from stumbling around and injuring yourself or falling.

In the kitchen, you can move things that are out of reach and need a stepstool to access down into lower cabinets to prevent falls. You want to delegate tasks that are more dangerous for senior citizens to someone else.

For example, bending over into the tub to clean it can lead to a fall. So get a loved one or hire a cleaning service to do some of the heavier daily tasks. What you want to do is to look around your home and consider what might be an issue for you and take care of that before it does become one.

You want to do this with everyday tasks as well as any repairs or home maintenance that needs to be handled. Make sure that you still have the ability to take care of your physical needs.

If you can still cook for yourself, then do that. If you can’t, then have someone make your meals a week’s worth at a time so that when you’re ready to eat, you can just pop it into the stove or microwave.

Staying Behind the Wheel

Most states have laws regarding the elderly and having a driver’s license. You must be able to pass a vision test every time that you have your license renewed. If you do it online rather than visiting the DMV, you must submit proof that you’ve had and passed a recent eye exam done at your optometrist’s office.

The reason that the states require this is because as you grow older, you can experience some struggles with vision as well as with certain tasks related to driving.

Keeping their ability to drive is extremely important for senior citizens. It represents the freedom to come and go as you please. Just because you get older, that doesn’t mean that you need to stop driving.

As long as you’re not having any issues, there’s no reason that you need to give it up. Check your car’s seat alignment and raise it if it needs to be raised. Also, make sure that you can comfortably see in all of the mirrors.

As you do get older, there can sometimes be issues with driving. By making some modifications, you can keep your driver’s license. If you’ve noticed older drivers before, especially on the interstate, many of them are driving at speeds that are well below the speed limit.

This can be dangerous for all of the other drivers as well as yourself. Even though the older drivers are simply being cautious and desire to drive at a safe speed for themselves, it can still pose a problem.

If you’ve been having some age related mobility issues and you still want to drive, what you can do is make some simple adjustments. For example, just make sure that you drive shorter distances.

Stay on roads that are familiar to you – and go to local establishments. If you’ve been having some vision problems, avoid driving during the evening hours when visibility can be an issue.

If you do happen to need to drive on the interstate or go a long distance, get someone to go with you that can make the trip with you. You’ll also gain the benefit of getting to spend some time with a friend or loved one.

Don’t drive when the weather is bad. As you get older, your reaction times can slow down. So if the rain is coming down in sheets, wait until the weather has cleared before you go out in the car. Same rule applies if there’s snowy weather.

Getting to and from your vehicle in winter weather can make it easier to slip on an icy walkway. Make sure that you have someone maintain the care of your vehicle such as with the tires and wiper blades – things that can impact your driving.

Keeping Up at Work

A few years ago, most people would retire around the age of 65. But that’s no longer the case. Many people are working well into their nineties – some because it helps with finances and others because they like having the interaction with other people.

They enjoy what they do.  Depending on what kind of work that you do, there may or may not be some mobility issues. If you work a job that requires you to be on your feet the majority of the day – and that’s causing you some problems, there are some easy steps you can take to make adjustments.

If you need to be off your feet, you can check to see if you can do your job sitting down. Your employer isn’t allowed to discriminate against you because of your age – and many of them will gladly make concessions that enable you to do your job.

Keeping your independence at work depends on how physically demanding your job is. If you have the kind of job where you have to do a lot of heavy lifting, then your body may not be able to put up with loads that you used to handle.

You can always ask to have someone else handle the labor part of your job while allowing you to handle the tasks that require brainpower over brawn. If you’re still able to work and you enjoy what you do but it is a bit taxing on you, then you can ask your employer if it’s possible for you to scale back on some of your hours.

Many aging men and women find it more beneficial to go from working full time at their job to keeping part time hours instead. Some people don’t want to cut back on their hours – but still need some adjustments in order to be able to continue on in the job.

If you find it tougher to get your work done or some tasks are beyond your physical capabilities, then ask your boss if you can cut back on some of your duties.

If you are self-employed with a long history of running your own business, what you can do is to appoint someone as your overseer. This person can manage the more taxing aspects of the job freeing you up to handle whatever you still feel physically and mentally able to take on.

When You Need to Outsource

It makes sense that you would want to outsource certain duties that can become too difficult for you to take care of. One of these things can be taking care of the lawn.

It can be too much to have to wrestle the lawn mower free from where you keep it covered. Plus, if you use a mower that has a bag, it can be too heavy to remove and dump the clippings.

However, if you’ve always enjoyed being outside and taking care of your yard, there are still some things you can do. But physically demanding jobs like mowing the grass can be passed on to someone else.

You can use a lawn care service that will take care of mowing the grass as well as making sure that your lawn is edged. This same company can also make sure that the leaves are raked and bagged every fall.

Just because it becomes necessary for you to have someone else mow and take care of the grass, doesn’t mean that you have to give up doing what you like to do outside.

If you’ve always enjoyed gardening, since this is less physically demanding than mowing, there’s no reason why you can’t continue doing it. You may have to make a few concessions – such as using a gardening stool or switching to raised flower or vegetable beds, but you can still enjoy it.

Taking care of a garden helps you engage in physical activity that’s good for you because it doesn’t tax your joints or put too much demand on your muscles.

Knowing When It’s Time to Compromise

No matter how much you value your independence, there may come a time when you have to have some help. Assisted living facilities can help you while still allowing you to maintain some independence.

There’s a checklist that you can look at to see if it’s time for you to get some help with your day-to-day living through an assisted living facility.  You may find yourself struggling to keep up with the chores at home.

The house isn’t kept as neat or as clean as you once could keep it. Things begin to pile up because you just can’t keep everything where it needs to go. On the outside, your home shows signs of maintenance neglect.

You might see boards on the porch that need to be fixed, leaves piled high in the gutter or debris from the wind that’s littered about your yard. Maybe the grass is taller than you’d like it to be because you can’t handle the lawn care any more.

Eating healthy meals becomes a challenge because you struggle to prepare your food. You find it difficult to make sure that you get the groceries that you need because of transportation or lifting issues.

It’s a struggle to do the necessary shopping when you are able to go to the store. You don’t drive as much any more or you don’t drive at all. Making sure that you get the right medication at the right time is sometimes a problem.

All of these are signs that you could benefit from assisted living help. Many seniors automatically picture being stuck in a small room in a nursing home when they think about assisted living.

But that’s not the case with facilities that specialize in helping senior citizens maintain their mobility and independence. What these facilities have is a wide range of services that they offer to senior citizens.

These facilities aren’t imposing brick buildings that look like hospitals. Most of them are gorgeous apartments or homes within a community.

They have hair salons, banking ability and even restaurants. Some have libraries. Living in an assisted living facility allows you do the things you enjoy but gives you peace of mind knowing that when you need help, it’s there.

You won’t have to depend on family or friends to help take care of whatever it is that you need done.

Eventually, as you need help, you’ll find basic care needs help such as getting ready for the day if you need help getting dressed. You’ll also find people on hand to help with any grooming or hygiene needs.

There won’t be any need for you to deal with maintenance issues because they’re all taken care of by the facility. Most of these facilities do all of the cooking for the residents of the community.

The floor designs are made specifically for the comfort and safety of senior citizens. There are social programs that help combat loneliness and many of these facilities offer companionship pairing.

You’ll be able to engage in many activities including exercise programs tailored to meet your needs. Your personal studio or home will have housekeeping provided and there will be on call medical personnel. There may also be 24 hour nursing care available.

In terms of anti aging, when it comes to mobility and maintaining your independence, it’s all about staying safe and being cautious. You want to work on your health and stay active during this time, but also be sensible and watch out for signs of aging as they appear so that you can take appropriate action.

Don’t look at the focus of your ability to get around and take care of yourself as a sign of aging. Look at it as preventative measures meant to provide you with longevity so that you can enjoy your life – and your friends and loved ones – for longer than you ever thought possible.

Usually, it’s those who don’t take precautions who end up succumbing to a disability like a fall that causes a broken hip. That can take you from not having a care in the world, to having your world turned upside down because you’re mobile one minute and bedridden the next. Don’t let that happen to you – protect yourself as you age and keep your youthful mobility intact.


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