The holidays can be a great time of year to reconnect with friends, family, and to be reminded of life’s wonderful blessings. But for some, the holidays could be a time of sadness and isolation if they require mobility assistance. Often throughout the year, we get so caught up in the day to day of our own lives that we don’t always notice when our aging parents or grandparents might be struggling with limited mobility. This can cause them to isolate or diminish their needs for fear of feeling like a burden.
To hopefully avoid this from happening and focus on making as many memories as you can, we’re offering some valuable tips and tricks and how to recognize the signs of a mobility need and the steps you can take to help alleviate some of the burden your loved ones might be feeling during this time of year.
Recognizing the Warning Signs
The signs of someone needing mobility are typically clear. The person will experience difficulties with completing daily activities, suffer from frequent falls, or complain of constant pain. But sometimes these signs can go unnoticed, especially if you don’t live close enough to check in on your loved ones. If this is the case, here are a few signs of a mobility need that may not be easily noticed:
Struggling to Breathe Regularly
Whether you are speaking to a loved one in person or from afar, shortness of breath is something that can easily be discerned in a conversation. If your loved one does not live a very active lifestyle and they experience frequent shortness of breath, have them schedule an appointment with their doctor to determine the underlying cause and what could be a potential solution.
Fear of Inclement Weather
A very common concern of those with mobility issues is inclement weather. This is because, during times of inclement weather, roadways and pavements can be slick and unstable making it difficult to safely navigate. Keep an eye for when your loved ones frequently decline leaving their home during inclement weather, it could be a sign of mobility issues.
Declining Social Gatherings
Just like declining to leave the home during inclement weather, if someone struggles with mobility issues and isn’t ready to come to terms with their struggles, they will more than likely decline any social gatherings for fear of looking weak or helpless. If you notice this happening often, try visiting them to check in on their health or asking them to see their doctor for a routing physical exam.
Other warning signs to look out for if you can see your loved ones more frequently throughout the year are:
Difficulties with Sitting, Standing, or Walking
Often aging adults will try to hide the fact that they need assistance with sitting, standing, or walking but hiding this fact can only last for so long. If you notice this happening more often, it may be time to discuss their mobility needs.
Trouble with Memory
Struggling to remember basic things can be a telltale sign of mental and/or physical decline. To keep an eye out for this decline, having your loved ones take memory tests or get regular checkups from their doctor can help to slow or accommodate this decline.
How to Talk to Your Loved One About Mobility Aids
Talking to your loved ones about mobility assistance can be challenging, especially if they don’t know they need help or if they simply just don’t want help for fear of seeming dependent on others. If you’re struggling to have the conversation with a loved one about mobility needs, here are few things to note to get the conversation started:
Figure Out the Best Time to Have the Conversation
Since talking about mobility concerns can be a very touchy topic for some, it’s important to first find the right time to start the conversation. You and your loved one need to be in the right state of mind and comfortable to effectively have a conversation about mobility options. This will make it easier to discuss different options and give everyone time to think things over before making any final decisions.
Lay Out All the Facts
Before starting the conversation, make sure you have all the facts laid out. If you have a loved one that is adamant about not having mobility issues, you’ll want to be able to provide them with concrete examples to show them otherwise. For instance, if they enjoy things like gardening, cooking, or walking the dog but they now become easily frustrated or shy away from doing those tasks, bring that up and let them know a mobility aid can help them enjoy those things once again.
Let Them Know that Getting Help Keeps Them Independent
When people hear ‘mobility aid’ they may automatically think things like ‘crippled’, ‘weak’, ‘giving up’, or ‘no longer independent’ but accepting the assistance of a mobility solution can be just the opposite. Let your loved ones know that having a mobility solution that can be customized to their unique needs can relieve a lot of the stress or burden from their family and friends. Especially with advancement in technology, like the new seat elevation for power wheelchairs, mobility users can live a completely independent lifestyle.
Discuss Options and Preferences
Coming prepared with a few different options for them to review can help them greatly during this process. It can be overwhelming to accept mobility assistance and then having to figure out what would be the best solution to aid in their mobility issues. To help them get started, have them answer questions about their mobility like, how often will you use the mobility aid, where will you need to use it, what would you like your mobility aid to assist you with? Questions like these can help to steer you and your loved one in the right direction to a solution that benefits them.
Stay Positive and Be Encouraging
Lastly, you’ll want to stay positive and be encouraging during the entire process. Being able to guide them and support them through this journey will make all the difference in helping them to embrace their need for mobility assistance.
Finding the Right Mobility Solution
Finding the right mobility solution to meet the unique needs of your loved one may seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start. But given that most mobility solutions can be covered by insurance, you can start by reaching out to your family’s doctor or physician for guidance. When you and your loved one go to schedule a routine physical exam, be sure to discuss any mobility limitations. This will help them to pair your loved one with a physical therapist or occupational therapist, as well as a mobility specialist to assess their needs.
During the assessment, it’s important that any and all mobility challenges are noted because it will help to alleviate pain, stress, and worry from you and your loved one. Additionally, with so many technological advancements with wheelchairs, the more accurate depiction of your loved one’s mobility need, the more independent and happier they will be.
Once mobility needs have been assessed, finding a provider to accommodate your loved one’s needs is crucial and obtaining mobility equipment through insurance can often be a long and daunting process. You’ll want to identify providers who will help to navigate you throughout the process while offering expert guidance and support. At Rehab Medical, we staff some of the nation’s top assistive technology professionals and insurance reps who not only help your family get mobility equipment but advocate on your family’s behalf to get the right equipment for their unique needs.