Helping Loved Ones Adapt to and Live Independently with Mobility Impairments

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Upper Body

impairments

As your loved one ages, they may begin to feel weak or helpless as they start to need help with everyday tasks they used to complete independently. One of the most drastic changes your loved one may experience is a loss of mobility in their arms, hands, and fingers. Life changes like mobility loss often cause fear, stress, confusion, anger, and even depression in older adults as they struggle to adjust to their new “normal.”

upper2

loss of mobility

taking action

We rely on manual strength and the ability for many everyday activities. While your loved one will experience new challenges associated with the mobility in their upper limbs, there are many changes you can help them make to overcome these obstacles, improve their quality of life, and maximize their independence.

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being aware

around the kitchen

Cooking can be difficult for older adults with limited mobility and dexterity. Make sure your loved can access their kitchen by considering the following:

  • Small knobs and handles may be difficult for them to grasp and open. Consider installing D-handles on drawers and cabinet doors to give them more accessible access to these areas.
  • Widen silverware with foam padding to help your loved one better grip their utensils.
  • Knobs may be difficult for your loved one to turn and adjust to the right temperature. Consider installing a hands-free faucet with an anti-scald device in your loved one’s sink to make doing dishes a pain-free process. Bonus: invest in a hands-free soap dispenser
  • Wrap masking tape around the edges of jar lids to improve your loved one’s grip. You may also want to consider investing in a gripping tool or electric jar opener to help your loved one open, sturdy jars. 
  • Canned goods may be problematic for your loved one. Pull tabs may be difficult for them to grasp, and regular can openers can be a nightmare. Try giving your loved one an electric can opener to help them safely open cans.
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FIT AND FASHIONABLE

DRESSING AND HYGIENE

Everyday tasks, such as dressing and bathing, can become difficult or downright painful when your loved one loses strength and ability. Some simple modifications and tools can help your loved one regain their independence and maintain their dignity. 

  • Improve your loved one’s grip by wrapping rubber bands or cycling tape around commonly used items (like bottles, handrails, toothbrushes, etc.).
  • Buy your loved one an electric toothbrush to ensure they can painlessly and effectively brush their teeth.
  • Put shampoo and conditioner in soap dispensers so your loved one can pump out premeasured amounts of soap.
  • Provide your loved one with an elevated toilet seat they can use to get on safely and off of the toilet. A wiping aid may also be essential to ensure they can stay clean and hygienic.

Replace buttons and zippers with velcro and elastic, so your loved one doesn’t have to fiddle around with complicated clothing

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Function

In everyday life

Many aspects of your loved one’s life are changing as they age.  Help them regain a sense of normalcy by ensuring they can go about their everyday life with as few changes as possible.

  • Invest in large button phones and remotes for your loved one so they can easily go about business as usual.
  • Consider using “smart” devices in your loved one’s home so they can control their lights, thermostat, and more through voice commands.
  • Help your loved one easily complete chores by providing them with a multi-use cart to move items independently.  
  • Rearrange their home to ensure daily use items are easily accessible.  Try not to store any items where your loved one would have to stretch or bend to get access to it.
 
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ADJUSTING AND

ADAPTING TO DEXTERITY LOSS

Don’t forget to care for your loved one’s emotional and mental needs as you are addressing their physical needs. Coping with mobility loss can be difficult.

  • Provide your loved one with exercises they can do to improve skill and strength in their upper limbs.
  • Help refocus your loved one on what they can still do without modification or assistance.
  • Listen to your loved one’s concerns and needs without judgment. They are the expert in their life.

More Recommended Products for Patients with Mobility Loss

Disclosure: We only recommend products based on our expertise in caring for aging adults. This site may contain affiliate links that (at no additional cost to you) we may earn an affiliate commission from. Read our full privacy policy here.

reading is everything

unique Mobility Needs

Loss of upper body function can cause substantial life changes for many older adults and their caregivers. At Beverly’s Daughter, our team is waiting to help you and your loved one transition smoothly into this new era of your lives. Contact your loved one’s primary care physician today for a list of adaptive equipment and send it to our staff for a list of personalized recommendations tailored to your loved one’s individual needs – all within 48 hours.

Loved Ones WITH limited Mobility CAN REMAIN INDEPENDENT

Mobility loss can be a challenge, but we offer many products and solutions to assist you and your parent to keep them safe so they can maintain their independence at home as long as possible. 

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