Maintaining mobility as we age is important for both our physical and mental health.
Physical health issues significantly increase the risk of developing mental health problems and vice versa. According to the UK Mental Health website, nearly one in three people with a long term physical health condition, also suffer from mental health problems.
Once a person becomes less mobile, they are less likely to participate in social activities and gatherings. Feelings of isolation can all too easily develop into depression.
In stark contrast, the National Institute on Aging has found that older people that maintained their mobility and social connections enjoyed a better quality of life, a lower risk of dementia and required less domestic support.
The most common causes of decreased mobility in our senior years are:
- Less physical activity;
- Problems with balance or strength;
- Obesity; and
- Chronic disease.
There are plenty of ways to stay active and healthy as our bodies age and change – in fact the best way to stay active is to not stop in the first place!
While your GP can monitor both your mental health and mobility, there are several health professionals able to assist you in your quest to stay fit and active, both physically and mentally.
A physiotherapist or chiropractor for example, can offer solutions for muscle and joint issues; while a podiatrist may be able to prescribe orthotics so you can continue to walk and move around comfortably.
Here are some other ways to maintain mobility even as you age.
Tips for Maximising your Mobility and Mental Health
- Regular exercise
Clearly this is super important to retaining mobility. A good walk outside in the fresh air is one of the best ways to stay mobile and exercise – and best of all it’s free!
If walking is not your thing, then there are plenty of age-appropriate classes that you can join, such as your local gym or community fitness groups. These provide a great workout in a fun social environment.
- Balanced Diet
A healthy balanced diet is a good idea at any age, and should be maintained through your later years of life. Eating well is key to reducing the risk of chronic disease issues that may impact your health and mobility.
- Check Your Home
The Australian Physiotherapy Association found that decreased movement actually increased the rate of falls in people over the age of 65. In fact, nearly two thirds of falls occur in the home.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to conduct your own home safety audit. Make sure your home is well lit, and check for potential trip hazards such as slippery surfaces, rugs and electrical cords. If you’re not sure where to start, you can download the booklet “Don’t Fall For It” from the federal government, which includes a handy guide to help you assess and reduce the risk of falls in your own home.
Don’t let age define you or your abilities. Keep your physical and mental health strong and keep moving.
This article was kindly written and contributed by Janet Camilleri.