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Many older people are overestimating their mobility

20th August 2015

The results of a study have revealed that many older adults are overestimating their physical ability, often assuming that they can complete tasks, although they actually require assistance. This is especially worrying, as many people leaving hospital may inform healthcare staff that they are capable to manage on their own, when in reality they need support from care workers or mobility products such as home stairlifts.

Only 77 per cent of those assessed during the study could perform the tasks as accurately as they stated, which included getting out of bed, walking 10 feet, and returning to bed. 12 per cent of those involved in the study required assistance when completing the tasks, or were unwilling to complete the tasks at all.

Numerous older people taking part also presumed that they were able to perform the actions while using a cane or walker, yet almost half of these needed assistance at some stage, with 24 per cent unable to fully complete the tasks without someone helping them.

More needs to be done to ensure patients do not leave hospital prematurely

This becomes a problem when a patient is sent home too soon, as they may become bed-bound or fall if they are left without the correct care, which could mean being re-admitted to hospital. While hospital staff are experts in deciding when a patient is ready to go home, they admit to regularly relying on information given by patients when asked about their abilities, which may not always be exact.

Dr. Platts-Mills told Medical News: “Our results suggest that patient statements are sometimes inaccurate, and, particularly for older adults who need some assistance, directly observing the patient's ambulation can be informative. Of course being able to move around isn't the only determinant of whether an older adult can be safely sent home, but it is a critical piece of information and it's good to get it right."

Image Credit: Elvert Barnes (

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