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US study finds mobility vital to healthy aging

26th September 2013

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

A recent clinical review from the University of Alabama in the US has found that ascertaining mobility levels in the elderly is a key indicator of healthy aging. Published on 18 September, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the review was part of the journal’s Care of an Aging Patient series and was conducted by practising geriatricians.

The study consisted of a review of academic papers published between the years of 1985 and 2012 that dealt with mobility matters within the aging population. Cynthia J. Brown M.D., Master of Science in Public Health, who authored the review, said, ‘The review confirmed that increased physical activity and exercise are extremely important for healthy aging,’ and that primary care physicians need to be assertive in identifying the mobility of their older patients in order to keep their patients active.

It is suggested that physicians should be asking their older patients two primary questions to identify their level of mobility: do you have difficulty climbing up 10 steps or walking a quarter of a mile because of health or physical reasons, and have you had to modify the way you carry out these activities for these reasons? It is then that the physician can prescribe the right course of action with either physical therapy or the appropriate ambulatory device, as modifications such as home stair lifts can aid mobility, keeping the elderly active and therefore contribute to healthy aging.

By identifying the form of mobility restriction that the patient is suffering, physicians can then prevent the patient’s mobility becoming limited and provide advice that will enable them to carry out everyday tasks with ease. Even simple modifications such as installing a walk in shower or bath can ensure an elderly patient is able to continue living independently. This view is supported by Brown in this article, who says that ‘with an increasing older population in the United States, it is incumbent on us to find ways to help older Americans continue to live well and independently.

Image Credit: Stewart Black (flickr.com)