Common Conditions That Lead To Mobility Problems In Elderly

16th February 2018
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Aging comes with various health concerns associated with mobility.

Muscle pains and joint problems can lead to difficulties in walking, getting up from the chair or bed, or climbing the stairs.

A senior suffering from mobility-related illnesses can experience more pain and difficulty doing simple tasks as well.


The most common conditions that lead to mobility problems include:

  • Arthritis

  • Osteoporosis

  • Hip fracture

  • Stroke

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Mobility issues are a big deal since they raise safety concerns among seniors.

The risk of falling, slipping, and tripping become higher.

Limited mobility can also diminish the quality of life quicker compared to an elderly with an active lifestyle.

In fact, a report revealed that aged patients in a nursing home who have a had hip fracture surgery eventually experience a decline in their health or die within a year.

Dangers of Immobility

Inactivity among older people can lead to other serious health issues apart from the existing musculoskeletal problems.

Heart Problems

The heart, which is mainly composed of muscle fibers, can shrink in size, change its shape, and lose its ability to pump blood when an elderly person doesn’t get any exercise.

This can lead to circulation problems, high blood pressure, and chronic heart diseases.

Lung Problems

The lack of physical activity also impacts the lungs since, like the heart, this organ also has respiratory muscles.

A 65-year-old who doesn’t get enough exercise can develop shallow breathing that can lead to dyspnea (difficulty of breathing) due to poor elasticity of the respiratory muscles.

Pneumonia and pulmonary 0edema might develop as well as inactivity shifts blood and fluid distribution in the body that can cause the pooling of secretions.

Stomach Problems

Constipation becomes increasingly common with old age but it can worsen with low physical activity or immobility.

It can lead to complications like bowel blockage, which can further develop into a bowel infection.

Old people with little physical activity can also struggle with heartburn, indigestion, and aspiration.

Managing Mobility With Arthritis

There are over a hundred types of arthritis but the most common is a degenerative condition known as osteoarthritis, where the joints turn weak and vulnerable to stiffness, swelling, and pain.

Osteoarthritis might not be prevented if it’s a condition that runs in your family.

You can, however, mitigate the risks by making conscious efforts that will help you get by with your day-to-day routines.

  • Start losing weight to help ease the pressure and stress that your knees, legs, and hip joints bear.

  • Avoid stress, which causes muscle tension, so that dealing with this chronic condition becomes easier. Stress will only aggravate the pain you’re feeling.

  • Get regular aerobic and strengthening exercises that will help with weight loss, muscle tone, and joint flexibility as well as reduce the feeling of body fatigue.

  • Talk to your doctor about solutions for pain relief.

  • If you have a knee osteoarthritis, invest in high-quality portable mobility aids such as a folding cane to help ease some of your body weight on your knees. Apart from being stable, portable mobility aids are designed to be lightweight so they won’t give additional stress to your joints when you carry them around.


Managing Mobility With Osteoporosis and Hip Fracture

Osteoporosis develops because of bone mass loss that can lead to brittle bones.

A person diagnosed with this condition becomes susceptible to fractures of the hip, knees, and spine.

Osteoporosis, however, can be largely preventable, especially if you invest in bone health early on.

Though the body reaches peak bone mass at age 30, this doesn’t mean that people older than 60 can’t do anything anymore.

The same health guidelines still apply in ensuring your bone health, regardless of age:

  • Eat plenty of calcium-rich food and supplement with vitamin D.

  • Do regular physical activities and exercise, especially weight-bearing routines.

  • Avoid or quit smoking and alcohol drinking.

Your doctor will most likely recommend that you get into a regular physiotherapy or rehabilitation program if you’ve had a hip fracture or a knee fracture surgery.

You might also make use of mobility aids such as crutches, walking sticks, motorized wheelchairs, or scooters to help you get around.

Managing Mobility With Stroke

Stroke victims might temporarily experience weakness of the foot and leg, balance and coordination problems, swelling and stiffness of the lower limbs, body fatigue, and pain.

These difficulties ease off, however, under rehabilitation, which you should never skip and pass up if you’re recovering from a stroke.

During your rehabilitation, your therapist will ask you to do repetitive movements and exercises that will take care of the stiffness and pain.

You will also be asked to do specific basic tasks repeatedly, such as picking up items with your hands, walking and standing up from a chair, until you regain your balance and improve your limb functions.

Listen, follow, and work well with your therapist for a faster recovery.

Managing Mobility with Parkinson’s Disease

Bradykinesia, or slowness of movements, is one of the early manifestations of Parkinson’s disease.

You can, however, take charge of this illness and prevent your body from deteriorating faster by doing more physical activities like simple household chores, gardening, and walking as well as exercising.

Experts learned in a study that emphasis on exercise among people with Parkinson’s in the last two decades greatly improved their condition and chances of living well despite having a degenerative disease.

But as there is no cure for Parkinson’s yet, your body might need additional support when the time comes.

You have the option to use canes, walkers, wheelchair, and other mobility devices for your everyday routines.

Managing Mobility With Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Mobility in people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia presents unique challenges because the condition impairs cognition.

At best, people with this illness, especially in the late stages, might need to always have someone around to help with chores around the house or the commute to the park.

Gait problems might provide a big clue on the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia, according to experts in several studies.

Walking, exercises, and physical therapy, therefore, can lessen the severity of the disease’s symptoms and discomforts.

Older people diagnosed with these common diseases must always have continuous consultations with their healthcare provider.

Apart from the regular check-ups, they must discuss further options with the doctor especially if the disease is progressing and mobility becomes more challenging.

Joe Fleming is the President at
He is interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing.
Working to motivate others and defeat ageing stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life.
Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and ageing all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces his goal is help others “rebel against age”.

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