Mobility and Wheelchair Options for Seniors

As you age, you may find that your strength or energy wanes and it takes more effort to get around than it used to. Many people find the idea of using a mobility aid a little scary, fearing that it means giving up on full health. But that couldn’t be further from the truth—a mobility aid such as a cane, walker or wheelchair could change your life! Imagine being able to participate in activities you thought you couldn’t do anymore due to physical limitations. It’s an opportunity to go on enjoying social outings without worrying if you’ll be able to keep up. It presents a reduced risk of falling and injuring yourself. You can go places that you currently avoid due to your health. A mobility aid can truly open a whole world of activities to you. Just read further to get answers to some of the most common questions about mobility and wheelchair options for seniors.

Mobility Aids: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I know if a mobility aid could enhance the quality of my life?

A: If walking poses a challenge that drains your energy and affects your ability to accomplish daily activities—whether it’s your work, hobbies or social life—then a mobility aid could help you. Instead of passing on these activities due to your physical condition, you can accomplish and experience more in life with the assistance of a mobility aid.

Q: What kinds of mobility aids are available?

A: Common mobility aids include canes, walkers and wheelchairs. The type of mobility aid you need depends on the level of assistance you desire. Let’s break down the features of the basic aids below:

  • Canes (single or multipoint): If you have some issues with balance but feel strong enough to walk a significant distance, a cane may be the right choice for you. Canes also help people whose foot or leg on one side is weaker than the other. You can choose a standard single-point cane or get a multipoint cane for added stability. In contrast to standard walkers, canes only require the use of one hand, which leaves your other hand free to carry objects.
  • Walkers (basic, with a built-in seat or with a built-in basket): A walker is the perfect choice for someone with moderate weakness and risk of falling. Since it can stand upright by itself and provides a stable object for both hands to grip, it offers better support against falling compared to the cane. In addition to standard walkers, you can get the type with a built-in seat, which will allow you to sit anywhere and anytime you feel the need. Some also come with built-in baskets, functioning as a practical way of carrying objects since both of your hands will be occupied with the walker.
  • Wheelchairs (manual or motorized): In cases where you face significant difficulty standing and walking, a wheelchair may be the best option. It offers the best protection against falling. If you still have the arm or leg strength to propel yourself, you will find the basic manual wheelchair most comfortable. Of course, it can also be pushed by someone else. On the other hand, those who cannot operate a manual wheelchair should consider getting a motorized wheelchair, which can be operated with a hand control.

Q: I can walk without a mobility aid. Aren’t wheelchairs and other mobility aids only for people who can’t walk at all without assistance?

A: It is a common myth that mobility aids are used only by people who cannot walk at all without them. In fact, many people who are able to walk employ mobility aids to enable them to ambulate further or longer. Even if you are capable of walking without any aid, you may still find a mobility aid quite practical if you tire easily or are at risk of falling. Smart use of mobility devices will get you back to activities you thought you couldn’t do anymore!

Q: Will I get weaker or less motivated from using a mobility aid?

A: Not necessarily—in fact, it’s often quite the opposite. If your state of health restricts your activities and keeps you in the house too much, using a mobility aid could improve your fitness by expanding your activity level. It is up to you how active you want to be and how much you use your mobility aid. If you do not need it all the time, you can determine which situations you want to use it or not.

Q: Can I use multiple mobility aids?

A: Absolutely—many people use a different mobility aid depending on how they feel and what kind of activity they will be doing. For example, someone who uses a cane to get around the house but gets exhausted quickly from walking may choose to use a wheelchair to go shopping or take an outing with the family. Or someone who normally uses a manual wheelchair for routine activities may use a motorized wheelchair for longer distances.

Hopefully these answers to frequently asked questions have helped you understand the benefits of using mobility devices such as canes, walkers and wheelchairs for seniors with physical limitations. If you are ready to expand your horizons through the support of a mobility aid, please consult your doctor to determine what type is right for you.

Disclaimer: The articles on this website are not meant to encourage the self-management of any health or wellness issue. Nor are they meant to encourage any one type of medical treatment. Treatment or advice used by a reader may have varying results, as each individual is different. Any article reader with a health-related question, is encouraged to seek a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider. The articles on this website should not be used to disregard any medical or health-related advice, nor should they be the root cause for delay in seeing a doctor or a certified health provider.

The articles on this website should not be used to start the use of dietary supplements or vitamins, natural or herbal products, homeopathic medicine or other mentioned products prior to a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider.

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