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How Mobility Loss Emotionally Impacts the Elderly

An eldery couple deal with the emotional impact of mobility loss

Limited mobility, social isolation and depression in the elderly sometimes go together. Research suggests that the elderly are statistically more likely to have an intense emotional response to mobility loss1. Seniors may exhibit some, or all, of the following if they lose the ability to function independently:

  • resentment and hostility
  • guilt and embarrassment
  • social isolation
  • reduced activity
  • physical weakness and fatigue
  • poor health
  • depression

However, mobility-impaired seniors who use a power chair, motorized scooter or other assistive device may be able to engage in more life-enhancing activities and regain the desire for social participation.

Limited Mobility Need Not Mean Limited Joy

For a better understanding of the potential connection between mobility loss and depression in the elderly, consider the following scenarios:

A 78-year old widower has trouble walking the stairs in his home and can no longer access his upstairs bedroom. He begins sleeping on the downstairs sofa and rarely has the energy to make up his bed. Ashamed, he stops inviting people over. Isolated, lonely and in pain, he feels no joy in living.

A 66-year old woman suffers a bad fall. She severely fractures her hip and may require a wheelchair permanently. Her spouse provides daily care, helps her to get around and gives her what she needs. Most days she lays quietly alone in bed, not wanting to be a bother to anyone.

Personal mobility loss has the potential to bring on sadness and depression. Howver, diminished mobility does not have to mean a diminished life.

Renewing Life With Renewed Mobility

If limited mobility is adversely affecting you or impacting the ability of a loved one to enjoy life, there is hope. Let's re-imagine the scenarios above, but this time with the addition of a mobility solution.

A 78-year old widower sees his doctor to get a mobility examination due to the pain he has climbing the stairs in his home. His doctor prescribes a cane and recommends a seated stair lift. With renewed ability to move throughout his home, he decides to host a weekly book club. And every night he sleeps soundly in his upstairs bedroom.

A 66-year old woman severely fractures her hip in a fall and needs permanent mobility assistance. Her rehab clinician orders a power chair. Now, she and her husband get together with friends and attend community church services. She can even prepare family meals without her husband's help.

Perhaps mobility assistance — in the form of a cane, walker, power chair, scooter, or personal lift — can bring about an improvement in day-to-day living for you, or a loved one.

Call 1-800-542-7236 today and find out if Hoveround is the answer to a more rewarding and independent life.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical and/or psychological advice. Any person who develops feelings of hopelessness and/or depression should consult with a friend, family member, religious adviser, physician or qualified mental health professional.

1Hirvensalo, Mirja, et. al. (2007) Underlying Factors in the Association Between Depressed Mood and Mobility Limitation in Older People. Gerontology 53(3):173-178 The Finnish Centre for Interdisciplinary Gerontology, Department of Health Sciences; Department of Sport Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, and Central FinlandHealth Care District, Jyväskylä, Finland

June 17, 2021