Walking is something very simple and easy what we do almost without noticing it-yet it can become such a difficult task at an old age. The list of possible causes is long: seniors’ walking problems might be a result of pain in one or more joints involved in walking, either caused by prior injuries, bone fractures, especially if they happened in older age, severe or sometimes even not that severe obesity, lack of physical activities during an extended period of time, inflammation, arthritis.
A stroke can also cause gait problems, or a person may have a birth deffect. Some of all these are only temporary, and need also temporary attention, but some are here to stay…
So, what can you do when you start experiencing difficulties with your or your loved ones’ walking?
1. Becoming aware of the symptoms
First, admit that the problem exists. Notice it. It is not that hard, actually, if you pay attention. Start with comparing the ways you (or the person you are observing) climbed the stairs a year ago and now-does it seem more difficult than before to climb one floore? Is it tiring? Can you walk about 500 meters in a row without feeling tired? That would be something between 500 and 600 steps, or the length of a football field five times, or approximately a length of 30 city buses.
Sitting down and getting up from a chair can also reveal the problems. If it takes more effort and/or the use of upper limbs, the problem might be right behind the corner. The sooner you start to deal with it, the better chances you have to keep the walking problems there-behind the corner, not in your street, or house.
2. Determining the cause of the walking difficulties
Sometimes we know exactly what the cause is. A recent injury, a sprain or a bone fracture maybe. In these cases it will probably be only a temporary, potentially painfull though, inconvenience which will disappear or ease as the healing progresses. Other times, we can’t understand where the slight immobility came from.
What we most often hear is that it normaly comes with aging. The truth is that it is most often related to aging, but indirectly. Aging can bring some muscles weakness, some stiffnes, also balance disorder. These, however, almost always come as a result of other issues.
Either lack of physical activity in the previous period lies in the background, or developing conditions such as podiatric ones, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, or much more severe ones, as neurologic disorders, which can appear at almost any period of life, not only at old age. Some seemingly innocent conditions also may lead to walking problems, such as hearing or visual impairment, even a psychological problem as fear can negatively affect a person’s walking.
3. Understanding risks related to walking problems
The most obvious risk here is from falling, where bones can be fractured and severe injuries can occur. Bones tend to heal rather slowly at an old age. You’ve probably already heard or read that a hip fracture at old age can be fatal in many cases. First, again, the bones are healing very slowly if at all. Second, it is also known that a hip fracture brings so many changes and other problems that the death risk is increasing dramatically with it.
While this might be the most serious risk that having walking problems can lead to, it is not the only one. Many others add up to the list, especially if a fall has already happened once, even if without any serious consequences. But the low mobility itself, can lead to different psychological issues, as well. Depression can very quickly accompany a person who used to be active prior to walking problems.
Being unable to independently attend to everyday tasks or events out of the house would do a lot for a low self-esteam of many of us, let alone the elderly. Slowly the person affected starts to loose a part of the usual social life all the way to the point where even a kind of jelousy towards still active people might appear.
As a result, becomes less and less willing to engage in activities which he or she have enjoyed before, either for not being able , or not wanting to perform at a lower level then before. Becomes more lonely, which in turn enhances the depression.
In the same time this new, rather sedentary way of life can cause physical issues, such as slowly loosing muscle tissue, which also means difficulties in everyday tasks, bones are getting more porotios, which is again a risk of fracture, even at a smaller movement, then ankles and feet swelling, pressure sores, and many more.
4. Looking for the solution
As much as comfortable may the modern lifestile be, with no need to go, for, let’s say shopping, as we (or our aging loved ones) can order online now and as much as the tv watching is the most on-hand entertainment in older age, these are the choices that do no favor to older adults at all, at least not for their wellbeing.
The best way to deal with walking problems is to engage in physical activities. If the problems are already here, they can rarely be exactly reversed, but we still can do something about them. Nowdays, we can find a suitable walking aid for the particular problem or level of problems, so we (or our loved ones) do not need to suffer and can be supported in walking, either by a cane, even a decorative, adjustable one, like this one . A walking frame, can be of great help, or, if the walking is already very difficult, you might want to help your loved ones be as mobile again as possible, with a rollator walker. The one I’ve came across online is a foldable, hybrid rollator-walker which can also safely be used as a wheelchair pushed by a caregiver. You can consider other aids, depending on the exact problem.
Even then, with a help of a therapyst, you can still implement suitable physical exercises or physical therapy which can help improving or at least stopping or slowing down deterioration of walking disorders in elderly.
As with any problem you might think of, prevention is the best tactics. Our bodies were meant to move, not to be sat in one place, so that is exactly what is required for their maintenance. It does not to be some vigorous excersizing at older age, it rather needs to be suitable for the person itself to perform. The most simple way of keeping in move is walking.
There are also many dancing clubs who will happily welcome seniors, even if they are doing their first dancing steps. A wide variety of yoga excersises are designed especially for the elderly. Some fitness clubs offer classes of moderate excersises for the elderly. The simple gardening is a good form of physical activity. Anything what can be called a form of physical activity is better than none.
Keep in mind that it is never too late to begin doing something to improve your or your loved ones’ physical and by that a phychological wellbeing as well.When you buy something from this website, I may receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure here