We tend to think of mobility problems being solely associated with the later years of life – but that’s not entirely true. Many people who are otherwise healthy have trouble getting around, sometimes as a temporary problem – though there are of course those for whom the problem is pretty much permanent. So – what aids are available to those who either find themselves suddenly experiencing mobility issues or for those who are now finding ‘getting around’ a real bind?
Before we explore the alternatives, it’s as well to point out that using an aid to mobility doesn’t make you a ‘cripple’ or a ‘geriatric’, two terms, one of derogation and one used more often as not as a dismissal, that just aren’t acceptable. No – using a mobility aid just means that you’ve come to terms with a problem. Maybe that problem is as simple as a twisted ankle – maybe it’s something far more serious like multiple sclerosis. Either way, once you have accepted that life has changed in some way you are that much closer to accepting the assistance that a
mobility aid can give.
At its simplest, a mobility aid can be a walking stick. Perhaps that knee you busted up in sports years ago has decided that it’s going to remind you that you’re not twenty years old any more, or maybe that ankle you turned last week is making walking painful. A walking stick is a great aid to mobility – it takes some of the weight off your knees, aids your balance and doesn’t cost much!
I’m betting that you’ve seen people whizzing past you in the street on those little three- or four-wheel scooters. What are they all about? Simply, they’re really just an advance on the walking stick, taking the weight off for a while. They let you go off shopping without worrying if your knee, ankle or hip is going to give up on you. Especially useful if you can walk with ease only for a short distance, they can be hired or, increasingly, they are provided at larger shops and malls on a free loan whilst you’re there. Many people find that, having experienced their practicality and ease of use, they want one of their very own and just go out and buy one!
But what if you can’t either afford a mobility scooter or simply don’t want one? Maybe a wheeled walking frame is the answer. Once only seen to be used by very elderly and frail individuals, they are now in use by many people who appreciate their lightness and convenience – especially as many of this type of mobility aid has a built-in seat! Taking up little room in the back of a car they can be taken virtually anywhere, enabling the user to get to places that were previously just too difficult to walk to. Some also fold down into an even smaller space than you’d think possible, meaning they can go with you just about anywhere!
But what other alternatives are there? Well, for those whose mobility problems are likely to be more chronic, the traditional wheelchair has been the answer. The wheelchair has evolved, though! Okay, it’s still basically a chair fitted with wheels but is now available in a wide range of weights, designs and looks. There are even models with reclining backs and headrests for those with upper-body mobility issues. In the electrically-powered field of wheelchair design, the combinations are also widely varied, from models that resemble a basic wheelchair fitted with an electric motor up to models that look like a lounge armchair with wheels on! Rear-wheel drive, front wheel drive, centrally driven – sounds more like an advert for types of car than a mobility aid (though I guess that’s all a car is, really!). The point is that there’s something out there for everyone who needs to make their ‘getting around’ that bit easier.
In summary, I hope that this short article has made anyone with mobility problems think a little bit more about ways to improve their daily life – because that’s what a mobility aid is – an aid that lets you get on with your life and enjoy it a whole lot more!