Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How Mobility Technology is Changing Aging

The vast majorities of seniors, an estimated 90%, report that they want to age in place and stay in their homes as long as possible.1  This should come as no surprise; most people have spent decades working on their homes, raising children there, and creating memories.  Why would anyone want to abandon the place where they feel safest and most comfortable right at a time when physical ailments and mobility challenges are leaving them feeling vulnerable?

No one, no matter what age, likes to feel more dependent on others.  In seniors, this unwillingness to confront the reality of decreased mobility can often result in preventable injuries.  In fact, falls are the most common cause of death among those over the age of 65.2  Fortunately, there are simple and affordable solutions available on the market that can increase safety and mobility for seniors and allow them to live independently in their own homes.

Stair Lifts
One of the biggest obstacles for seniors with mobility challenges can be tackling the stairs of their multi-level house.  Many people end up abandoning the upper levels of their home altogether and settle for living on the first floor.  Installing a stair lift, which can range in price from around $1,250 - $3,000, can instantly allow seniors full access to all areas of their home.  Some models are especially designed for do-it-yourself installation, which helps keep cost down.

In addition, there are outdoor stair lift options that can reduce the risk of slipping and falling on outdoor surfaces.  If you have been leaving the house less and less often because you are afraid of porch stairs or other outdoor mobility obstacles, a weather-proof outdoor stair lift can help you safely reach your vehicle or even just get back out to your garden.  Investing in an indoor or outdoor stair lift might be just the tool to prevent falls and allow you to age in place more comfortably and they only cost a fraction of what it would to relocate or hire a home aide.

Safe Bathing Solutions
Improving safety and accessibility in the bathroom can be another vital component that will allow you or your loved one to comfortably age in place.  For many, the biggest challenge is being able to safely access their tub or shower.  Tub ledges can present a real obstacle to anyone with limited mobility and when you combine that with wet, slippery tile surfaces, the risk for a nasty fall only increases.

In addition to grab bars, shower seats, and other simple bathroom solutions, there are also more substantial solutions that can increase your safety.  Bathroom conversion and replacement kits can either modify your existing tub to make it more accessible or offer a whole new tub that can provide access to those who are ambulatory or wheelchair bound.  There are a wide variety of sizes, styles, and price ranges available to fit your physical challenges, architectural limitations, and budgetary needs.

Bath lifts are another great option on the market that can help you safely enter and exit your tub.  Some models are designed to simply lower you into and raise you out of your tub in order to eliminate unnecessary strain.  More advanced models feature seats that will actually rotate you over the ledge of your tub before lowering you in, essentially taking all the work and danger out of entering and exiting your tub.

Lift Chairs
Another great tool that can allow seniors to age gracefully and remain independent is a lift chair.  These simple devices combine a comfortable recliner with a lift mechanism that can smoothly and gently lower you into and raise you out of a seated position.  This is the perfect solution for those who have trouble sitting or standing.  In addition to the convenient lift feature, these chairs also come in a variety of recline positions that allow the user to rest comfortably and enjoy pressure relief on achy muscles and joints.  Some people even find that they are able to enjoy more rejuvenating rest when they sleep in their lift chair.

Mobility technology is becoming more innovative and affordable, which is in turn making it increasingly feasible for seniors to age in place and maintain their independence.  When combined with in-home care services, seniors can experience enjoy an affordable solutions to their mobility challenges without having to leave their homes and more into a nursing home.  A comprehensive treatment place can not only ease the burden on caregivers and family members, it can also provide user friendly tools that can improve the mental, emotional, and physical health of seniors.

If you are interested in aging in place technology and mobility devices, here are some helpful resources:

Amy M. Blitchok is a professional writer and researcher who specializes in issues related to seniors, aging in place, and mobility and disability equipment.  One of her goals is to disseminate important information in the hopes of helping to improve the quality of life for seniors, their families, and caregivers.  You can read more of her work at www.modern-senior.com.  Feel free to contact her with any questions or comments.
1 “Falls Among Older Adults:  An Overview.”  Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Sept 2012.  Web.  7 May 2013.  

2 “Falls Among Older Adults.” 

1 comment:

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