As your loved one ages, the risk of falling becomes greater. Statistics show that 30% of adults over 65 fall at least once annually. This often results in serious injuries such as broken hips and or even death. Your loved one can be safe, independent and confident with a few small home adjustments and the right mobility aids for the elderly. Your home care package may cover some of the costs.

Home Environment

Clear your loved one’s home from tripping hazards and make modifications that assist movement. You may need to reorganise the living space by:

  • removing rugs and bulky furniture
  • installing handrails
  • building ramps
  • raising the toilet seat
  • widening doorways
  • lowering countertops and cupboards

Medical Advice

Prior to purchasing assistive devices, it is vital to visit a specialist so that you buy the correct mobility aids for the elderly. Initially, an occupational therapist (O.T.) will assess your loved one and focus on ways your loved one can use or improve the mobility skills s/he already has. By using a different technique or increasing strength, for example, your loved one may be able to get in and out of bed safely without an assistive device. This allows him or her to remain physically independent for longer and represents a financial saving.

An O.T. will recommend assistive devices which suit your loved one’s physical attributes and body movements. A device which is the wrong height or too flimsy for your loved one’s weight can be dangerous. An O.T. can teach your loved one how to use equipment correctly in different situations such as moving around the house or getting on a bus.   

Assistive Devices  

The equipment you choose should help your loved one in situations where mobility is difficult and enhance his or her safety. Encourage your loved one not to become dependent on devices in situations where s/he can still move around easily without danger. Some of the mobility devices your O.T. may recommend are:

Canes: These are readily available at pharmacists, but you need to know if your loved one needs a single point or multipoint cane. Multipoint canes offer more support. They must be adjusted to the correct height or back pain can result.

Walkers:  These come in a range of designs and provide a wider stability base when you walk, greatly reducing the risk of falling. These are height adjustable and an O.T. should train your loved one in correct usage. The temptation to lean too far forward for support can result in poor posture.

Electric Lift Chairs: Many seniors have difficulty getting out of a chair. These chairs allow you to transition from sitting to standing by pressing a button to control the chair’s angle. They are usually powered by a small motor. Your chair must be suitable for your height and weight.

Hospital Adjustable Beds: Seniors who have difficulty going from a sitting to lying down position and vice versa can benefit from a therapist-recommended bed. The height of the bed can be adjustable and your loved one will be able to lie down or sit up easily by using the controller to lower or raise the top part of the bed.

Try Before You Buy

Sometimes it takes a little time to find the perfect mobility aids for the elderly. Most suppliers allow you to trial the equipment at home before you buy. Alternatively, you can choose to rent equipment. Include your in-home carer in the decision-making as he or she may be able to suggest equipment and suppliers that have produced positive results for other clients.


Image credit: "Grandparents" (cropped) by Ben Smith. (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic)

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