Mobility Tips

An introduction to helping a loved one with mobility problems.

Mobility generally refers to ambulatory or lower extremity activities such as transferring within a room, walking between rooms, or climbing stairs. Your care recipient’s mobility is incredibly important because it affects his or her independence and health. By helping your loved one be as self-mobile as possible, you will help him or her to maintain independence.

In cases where your loved one needs assistance transferring, always be sure to explain what you are doing prior to beginning and while you’re assisting. Additionally, be sure that you are prepared to help transfer your loved one by:

  • Planning the transfer before you begin
  • Explaining the transfer to the care recipient
  • Finding someone to help you if your loved one weighs more than one-fourth your body weight
  • Keeping the care recipient’s weight close to your body and standing with your feet shoulder width apart
  • Keeping your back as straight as possible and lifting with your legs
  • Letting the care recipient see where he or she is moving to
    Making ample room to help your loved one move
  • Pivoting your entire body when turning instead of twisting at the waist
  • Wearing flat non-skid shoes and having your loved one do the same

Your loved one may require help walking in the form of a cane, or a walker, or a wheelchair. If he or she uses a cane, you should make sure that your loved one:

  • Holds the cane in the hand opposite the weaker leg
  • Moves the cane and weaker leg about the same distance
  • Leans on the cane when moving the stronger leg
  • Stands straight and looks forward rather than down
  • Climbs stairs by placing the stronger leg up, followed by the cane and weaker leg together
  • Descends stairs by placing the cane and weaker leg down, followed by the stronger leg

If your loved one uses a walker he or she should:

  • Obtain a walker that has hand rests even in height with his or her hips
  • Move the walker only one step length forward
  • Move his or her weaker leg forward, so that his or her heel is even with the back legs of the walker
  • Push his or her hands down on the walker when stepping forward
  • Proceed up stairs beginning with the stronger leg and down stairs beginning with the weaker leg

If your loved one uses a wheelchair, be sure to:

  • Adjust the height of the foot pedals so that your loved one’s hip-knee angle is 90 degrees
  • Place a pad or cushion in a wooden wheelchair in cases of prolonged sitting
  • Prepare the wheelchair for transfer by
    • Locking the brakes
    • Moving the footrests out of the way
    • Assisting the care recipient in putting his or her feet shoulder width apart
  • Help transfer your loved one by
    • Placing one arm around your loved one and under his or her armpit and placing your other arm under his or her knees, Or Facing your loved one and securing a hold under each arm
    • Lifting your care recipient out of his or her chair
  • Pull the wheelchair backwards over bumps, curbs, or steps

By using safe mobility procedures, you not only aid your loved one in remaining more independent, you can also help prevent accidents, falls, and other mobility-related health conditions.

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