Mobility, independence, and happiness—the link between mobility and mental health
The loss of mobility is a challenge for the person affected by it and those who care for them. Whether you’re unable to drive, walk or eat on your own, the loss of independence can disrupt your emotional balance, leading to bouts of sadness, anger, frustration and isolation. For the elderly, mobility loss is possibly the most common cause of disability worldwide. It is the primary reason for daily living challenges such as walking, dressing, showering, using the bathroom or even getting up and about.
What is mobility loss?
Mobility loss is the inability to move at your own will. Mobility loss is a debilitating condition that interferes with your need to lead an independent life. This condition can occur due to chronic illness, terminal illness, physical or cognitive impairment and limitations or physical disabilities. All of these factors make it difficult for you to complete daily tasks.
What causes mobility loss?
Although there may be dozens of reasons for the loss of mobility, three primary factors cause most of these cases. These include accidents, falls and medications. In the elderly, medications and their interactions with food and drinks can cause sleepiness, fatigue, and dizziness, resulting in accidents at home or behind the wheel. Coupled with reduced physical activity, impaired balance, chronic illnesses and impaired vision and hearing makes the elderly be at a high risk of mobility loss.
What is the link between mobility and mental health?
Independence and mobility are essential to ensure our mental well-being. For example, when we’re anxious or feeling lonely, the first thing that comes to mind is to go for a long walk, a drive, or just go out and spend some time with our friends and family. The inability to do any of these activities or even simple tasks, such as going to the bathroom unassisted, can cause frustration, anger, grief, isolation, and disengagement, leading to emotional challenges.
The impact of disability on the mental health of seniors
The magnitude of emotions triggered by mobility loss are exceptionally profound in the elderly and can cause many consequences in older adults. Studies have shown that chronic depression easily leads to cognitive impairment and dementia and can even delay recovery in some cases. This is especially noted in the case of patients receiving treatment for cardiac, renal, respiratory, and musculoskeletal conditions.
A report from the APA stated that disability can also lead to outbursts of anger in the elder, which leads to increased inflammation in the cases of those suffering from cardiovascular problems, arthritis and cancer.
Social isolation is a major risk factor for those suffering from disabilities. In fact, social isolation and loneliness is associated with a 50% higher risk of dementia, 29% higher risk of cardiac problems and up to 32% higher risk of a stroke. All of these risks can further lead to increased risks of mobility loss and mortality in older patients.
What can be done to minimize the mental impact of disability?
There is a lot that friends, family, co-workers, and mental health workers can do to reduce the impact of disability. Some of these supportive activities include:
Stay connected. Checking in every day or every few days is essential to help the disabled understand that someone voluntarily looks out for them. This helps them stay in touch with friends and family, and reduces feelings of loneliness, anger and grief.
Help with tasks. Whether it is transportation, buying essentials or helping them up from a chair—a helping hand is always welcome and great to reduce feelings of anxiety.
Find items that help in navigating activities daily life. For example, walkers, rollators, scooters, canes, grab handles, and other items from companies like Drive DeVilbiss can help the elderly and the disabled feel mobile and reduce stress in daily tasks.
Use methods to boost independence. Whether it is something simple such as installing grab handles in the bathroom or putting in a shower chair to help maintain personal hygiene, every single move reduces the stress and anxiety the disabled feel while performing daily tasks.
Ask a professional for help. Professional carers can help the elderly and the disabled by easing the transition to navigate daily life better.
Everyone reacts to situations differently. If you care for someone or have someone experiencing difficulties due to a recent disability, act like a support system and help them cope with the stress of adjusting to the new way of life.
How can Sanrai help?
Innovative products from companies such as Sanrai can help the elderly and those with disabilities lead near-normal lives. Sanrai has a wide range of products from companies such as Drive DeVilbiss that can help the disabled get up and about, have a better social life, maintain personal hygiene and do everyday tasks with ease.
The first step towards reducing the mental impact of disability is to embrace it. Accepting and understanding your transition path into this new phase of life can help you maintain mental well-being, stay in touch with your peers and manage life just the way you did earlier. However, this might come with significant challenges. Understanding that there are solutions and people who can help you during this phase of life goes a long way in reducing the impact of disability on your mental health. Stay strong, stay safe!