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Choosing the Right Mobility Aid: A Comprehensive Guide

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Mobility Aids guide

Unfortunately, the fact is that fewer than half of them will talk with their doctor or other health professional about it. Alarmingly it appears that falls are also the No. 1 cause of injuries in seniors. They can be serious with injuries ranging from hip fractures, cuts, and even serious head and brain injuries. Some of these injuries can be fatal.

It has been shown that even when there’s no serious injury, a fall can still be so frightening that seniors may avoid certain activities. They are afraid they’ll fall again and next time cause more damage.

There are lots of factors that can contribute to a fall. It might be caused by slippery floors, rickety stairs, or electrical cords. The most common causes of falls are in the home. This is thought to be because you might have a false sense of security believing you are perfectly safe. That’s why fall prevention starts with creating a safe living space for you or your loved one.

This doesn’t mean that you must undertake a complete house renovation. Making your home safer from falls can take a few basic changes. Senior care experts offer up the following advice for preventing falls at home:

Clean up clutter.

One of the easiest and fastest methods for preventing falls is to keep your home tidy and neat. Getting rid of any clutter will make a big difference to the safety of your home. Old newspapers and magazines, especially in hallways and on staircases can cause a very real tripping hazard.

Repair and remove tripping hazards.

It is often the case that home fixtures have contributed to falls. This can then lead to back pain and other injuries. Take a look at every room and hallway. You should be looking for items such as loose carpet, throw rugs that slip on the flooring underneath. Floorboards that stick up are also worth keeping an eye out for. Even the smallest rising can be dangerous. Repair, remove or replace those items for more effective fall prevention.

Install grab bars and handrails.

These are an effective method of keeping anyone who is a little unsteady, safer! They can make getting up and downstairs so much easier. Getting on and off the loo and stepping in and out of the bath can be a dangerous thing to do without them. installing grab bars by toilets and baths or showers will help keep you safer. Handrails in stairways and hallways will help to reduce the incidences of injuries. A handyman or family member can usually help to install them, it doesn’t have to be a difficult job.

Avoid wearing loose clothing.

You want to feel comfortable at home especially when it is warm, right? Unfortunately, though, baggy clothes can sometimes make you more likely to fall. Opt for better-fitting and properly hemmed clothing that doesn’t bunch up or drag on the ground. You will be much safer in doing so.

Light up your life.

Lighting that isn’t bright enough is another major hazard for seniors. To create a home that’s more suitable for the elderly, install brighter light bulbs. These are especially needed in stairways and narrow hallways. It has also been suggested that also recommended that nightlights in bedrooms and bathrooms will help seniors stay safer.

Wear shoes, even in the house.

Socks may feel more comfortable, but they do present a higher slipping risk. One really sure way to help prevent falls at home is to wear shoes. You can buy non-slip socks that have grips on the soles of the feet if shoes are too uncomfortable for normal wear in the house.

Make everything nonslip.

Baths and showers, as well as floors in kitchens, bathrooms, and porches, can become extremely dangerous when wet. You can buy mats that avoid that danger from occurring and they are relatively inexpensive.

Live on one level.

Even with precautions like guardrails, stairs often present a significant falling hazard. If you are in a position to do so maybe consider living on one level. If that isn’t possible then try to limit the trips you take up and down the stairs.

The fewer times you climb the stairs the fewer times you risk a fall.

Move more carefully.

Many people who fall at home do so because they are moving too quickly from a sitting to a standing position and vice versa. Preventing falls like this is as easy as taking your time. All you must do is pause after going from lying down to sitting and from sitting to standing. There are also aids available for you to be able to do this more safely if you need them.

For the elderly, fall prevention means injury prevention. Ask your loved ones to help you ensure that your rooms and stairways are clutter-free. Make sure that they are well-equipped with lighting, handrails, grab bars. Nonslip mats will help you avoid falling all of which can go a long way toward keeping you safe in your home.

To contact us direct please email us here or call us on (07) 3350 5522. We would welcome the opportunity to introduce you to our range and help you to Live without Limits! We have a fully mocked-up showroom in Kedron and can also arrange in-home demonstrations. You can  visit or product range online here.

Mobility aids are designed to assist individuals who face difficulties with movement, allowing them to experience greater freedom and independence. These aids vary widely, from simple devices like canes to more complex machinery like mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs.

Understanding Your Needs

Understanding your needs is a crucial first step in selecting the right mobility aid. This process involves a comprehensive assessment of various factors to ensure that the chosen aid enhances your mobility and aligns with your lifestyle and physical capabilities.

  1. Assessing Mobility Limitations: Start by evaluating your mobility limitations. This includes understanding how far you can walk, your balance levels, and the strength in your arms and legs. A thorough assessment of these factors helps determine which mobility device will be most effective for you. For instance, if your walking ability is limited, a wheelchair or mobility scooter might be more appropriate than a walking stick.
  2. Physical Capabilities and Limitations: Consider your physical capabilities, such as strength, coordination, range of motion, and endurance. This is important as different aids require different levels of physical ability. For example, a walking cane may be suitable for someone needing minimal balance support, but a rollator, which offers support from both sides, might be better for someone with more significant balance issues.
  3. Environment: The environment where you’ll primarily use the mobility aid is another critical factor. Assess your home for stairs, tight spaces, and other obstacles that could affect mobility. Also, think about the places you frequent, like parks, workplaces, or stores. For instance, a lightweight and foldable mobility aid might be more suitable for someone who travels frequently.
  4. Portability and Transportation Options: The portability of the mobility aid is essential, especially if you plan to travel or need to transport it frequently. Consider the weight of the aid, whether it can be easily folded, and if it fits in a vehicle. You might need different mobility aids for everyday use and travel.
  5. Weight Capacity and Dimensions: Ensure that the mobility aid can support your weight and fits your body size and proportions. This is crucial for both safety and comfort. Overloading a mobility aid not designed for your weight can be unsafe and lead to malfunctions.
  6. Accessibility Features and Adjustability: Look for mobility aids with features that enhance comfort and accessibility. Adjustable seat heights, armrests, and removable footrests can make a significant difference. Also, consider storage options for convenience.
  7. Cost, Insurance Coverage, and Budget: It’s important to fit your mobility aid within your budget. Investigate insurance coverage options, including Medicare or private insurance, for financial assistance. Remember to consider not just the initial cost but also potential maintenance expenses.
  8. Trying Before Buying: Before finalising your purchase, try out the mobility aid. Many healthcare supply stores offer rental options or trial periods. This helps ensure the aid is comfortable and meets your needs.

Additional Considerations

  • Safety: For those with a high fall risk, choose mobility aids with a wide base of support and features that prevent tipping over.
  • Versatility: Some aids offer versatility, allowing you to use them in different ways, depending on your needs.
  • Condition: Your mobility may be affected by various conditions, and it’s important to adjust your expectations and choose an aid that aligns with your physical abilities.
  • Lifestyle and Goals: Consider what you need to do with your mobility aid. Your lifestyle and goals can help narrow down your choices.

Types of Mobility Aids and How to Use Them

Canes support the body’s weight and help transmit the load from the legs to the upper body. They are ideal for people who have problems balancing and are at risk of falling. Common types of canes include white canes for the visually impaired, quad canes with four feet for greater stability, and forearm canes for extra forearm support.

  • Pros: Lightweight, easy to manoeuvre; improves balance and stability; relieves joint pressure; reduces fall risk.
  • Cons: Less stable compared to walkers.
  • Suitable For: Individuals with arthritis, minor balance or stability issues, or disabilities affecting one side of the body.
walking sticks

Crutches

Crutches are suitable for people whose grip may not be as strong, such as those with arthritis or cerebral palsy. The hand holds a grip while the forearm rests on a horizontal platform, offering more balance without the need to hold firmly.

  • Types: Underarm and forearm crutches, platform crutches (for weaker grips).
  • Pros: Good for temporary injuries; adds support and stability.
  • Cons: Not suitable for balance issues; physically demanding; limits arm usage.
  • Suitable For: Temporary injuries, post-surgery support; people who need to keep weight off one limb.

Walkers, or Zimmer frames, provide stability and support. Basic walkers have a three-sided frame that surrounds the user. Some walkers have wheels or glides on the base of the legs, making it easier for people with limited arm strength to use them.

  • Types: Standard walkers (no wheels), two-wheeled walkers, knee walkers, hemi walkers (one-sided support).
  • Pros: Supports high fall risk; good for weight-bearing; aids in balance; sturdy and strong.
  • Cons: Bulky, requires good upper body strength; not as transportable as canes.
  • Suitable For: Those with severe impairments, recovering from surgery, or lacking lower body strength.
walkers

Rollators

Rollators are walkers with wheels. Unlike standard walkers, they do not need to be lifted for movement, making them ideal for individuals with limited arm strength. Rollators typically come with three or four wheels, handlebars, and a built-in seat, offering a convenient resting spot.

  • Types: Three or four-wheeled designs.
  • Pros: Built-in seats for resting; ideal for severe mobility restrictions; enhances support and stability; better manoeuvrability.
  • Cons: Larger and harder to transport than standard walkers.
  • Suitable For: Severe mobility restrictions, balance issues, those requiring frequent rest.
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rollators

Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs are used by those who should not put weight on their lower limbs or cannot walk. They range from manual wheelchairs, propelled by the user, to electrically powered wheelchairs. Specialised types include standing wheelchairs and sports wheelchairs for specific activities.

  • Types: Manual, attendant-propelled, electric-powered; specialised types like standing and sports wheelchairs.
  • Pros: Essential for those who can’t bear weight on lower limbs; electric models require no manual effort.
  • Cons: Manual wheelchairs require good upper body strength; electric models need regular charging and maintenance.
  • Suitable For: Severe disabilities, those unable to walk, varied personal needs.
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wheelchairs

Mobility Scooters

Resembling wheelchairs, mobility scooters have a seat set on top of wheels and are typically battery-powered. They are beneficial for those without the upper body strength or flexibility to use a manual wheelchair.

  • Pros: Good for outdoor use; doesn’t require upper body strength; provides seating and foot plates.
  • Cons: Rules vary for sidewalk and road use; training may be required.
  • Suitable For: Those who can walk short distances but struggle with longer distances.
mobility scooters

Selecting the Right Walking Aid for Difficulty Walking

Walking aids are designed to help you move around more easily, providing support and improving your balance.

Walking Sticks for Balance Support

If your difficulty walking is minor and you just need a bit of help with balance, a walking stick might be all you need. They’re simple to use and great for those who are mostly independent but need a little support now and then.

Crutches and Walkers for Greater Stability

For those who need more support, especially after an injury, crutches or a walker could be a better choice. Crutches are useful if you need to keep weight off a leg. Walkers offer even more stability and are perfect if you need a sturdy aid to lean on while walking.

Choosing a Manual Wheelchair

Manual wheelchairs are ideal mobility devices for those who have sufficient upper body strength and need help moving over longer distances.

  • Lightweight and Transportable Models: There are various types of manual wheelchairs. Lightweight models are easy to carry and perfect for travelling. They’re designed for those who can propel themselves but need a convenient, portable option.
  • Heavy-Duty Wheelchairs for Robust Use: For more robust use, heavy-duty wheelchairs are available. These are designed to handle more weight and offer greater durability. They’re ideal if you need a sturdier, more resilient wheelchair.

Opting for an Electric Wheelchair

Electric wheelchairs are excellent for those with limited upper body strength or needing a mobility aid for extended periods.

  • Features of Electric Wheelchairs: Power wheelchairs come with various features to meet different needs. They often have adjustable speed settings and are built to navigate various terrains. This makes them a versatile choice for indoor and outdoor use.
  • Advantages for Long-Term Use: For long-term use, electric wheelchairs offer the advantage of reducing physical strain. They’re powered by batteries, which means you don’t need to use your arms to move around. This makes them a great choice for individuals with limited mobility or strength.

Mobility Scooters: A Convenient Option

Mobility scooters are a fantastic choice for those with mobility issues who can still stand and walk a bit. They’re especially useful for outdoor adventures, giving you the freedom to travel longer distances on your own.

Ideal for Outdoor Use

These scooters are perfect for getting around in open spaces like parks or shopping centres. They handle uneven terrain well, making them a practical option if you enjoy outdoor activities but find walking difficult.

Features of Mobility Scooters

Mobility scooters come in various styles, from compact, three-wheel designs to larger, four-wheel models. They often have comfortable seats, easy-to-use controls, and storage baskets, making them both comfortable and convenient.

Assessing Your Environment

Choosing the right mobility aid also means thinking about where you’ll use it most.

  • Best for Indoor Use: If you’re mostly going to be inside, like at home or in a shopping centre, compact devices like walkers or manual wheelchairs are more suitable. They’re easier to manoeuvre in tight spaces and are great for smooth, flat surfaces.
  • Suitable for Outdoor Use: For outdoor adventures, especially over uneven terrain like grass or gravel, mobility scooters or power wheelchairs are the way to go. They’re designed to handle more challenging environments, giving you the freedom to explore without worry.

Consulting with Professionals

Getting advice from professionals is a key step in choosing the right aid for your needs.

A physical therapist or other healthcare professional can offer valuable advice. They’ll look at your physical abilities, your daily activities, and where you’ll be using the aid the most. With their expertise, they can recommend the best option for your individual situation.

Every person’s needs are different. A professional can help you understand which features will be most beneficial for you, whether that’s a lightweight frame, adjustable controls, or specific wheels for uneven terrain.

Final Thoughts: How to Choose Mobility Aids

Selecting the appropriate mobility aid is not just about regaining movement; it’s about reclaiming your independence and quality of life. Finding the perfect mobility aid is a journey of understanding your own needs and the environments in which you’ll use these aids. Whether it’s a walker, a manual or electric wheelchair, or a mobility scooter, the right choice can open up a world of possibilities. 

It’s important to consider your specific needs, the environments you navigate, and the level of support required. And remember, consulting healthcare professionals can provide invaluable insights into making the right choice for your unique situation.

Hello Mobility: Your Partner in Independence

Hello Mobility stands out as a reliable and expert option for all your mobility needs. Formerly known as Scooters Australia Brisbane, Hello Mobility has over 30 years of experience offering a wide range of mobility aids. Our extensive product range includes mobility scooters, power chairs, daily living aids, and home care solutions like medical/disability beds, medical mattresses, and bathroom aids tailored to meet individual requirements. 

We collaborate closely with healthcare professionals to ensure you get the best-suited equipment. If you’re considering a mobility aid, browse our wide selection of mobility aids. You can also visit our showroom at Kedron and Darra for a hands-on experience or arrange a free home trial to test products in the comfort of your own environment.

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