The ability to remain an independent and active quality of life is an essential goal for most older adults. Everyone experiences this differently and has unique needs based on their situation.
For seniors, one of the critical considerations for remaining in their own home is their sit-to-stand mobility. The ability to stand from a seated position is an essential requirement for independent living. Think about the number of times you get up from a seated position and what would happen if you couldn’t.
When decreased mobility problems first arise, coping is the first response. This can be physically exhausting and even dangerous. Rocking to gain momentum or grasping at furniture to stand highlights the energy expended on this everyday daily activity. If they slip or lose balance, they could be injured.
The “Continuum of Mobility” is a handy guide to help determine your stage of mobility or that of a loved one. While everyone is somewhere on the Continuum, those further forward require increasing assistance to maintain the same level of independence.
In the early stages, as mobility begins to falter, small adaptations may be all that is needed. “Passive devices” are the first mobility aids to consider and utilize around the home. These include inexpensive items like grab bars, raised toilet seats, transfer boards, or furniture risers that make getting up easier.
When first setting up the home environment for someone with sit-to-stand difficulties, look at all the areas where problems may occur. For example, if I have trouble getting up from my sofa, I may also need help in the bathroom. Several products are usually required to stay safe, and these can work together. A safety pole by a raised chair can provide extra support when standing up.
Those who require more assistance to stand will move to “active devices” that augment the passive ones or replace them entirely. If you cannot stand on your own, a portable lifting seat, lift chair or another type of mechanical lift may be the only choice. Similar to passive devices, there may be more than one option used to address different situations or locations around the home. Other active devices include walking support aids like canes, crutches, and mobility scooters. Power and manual wheelchairs are available for those that struggle with most walking physical activity.
Choosing the right mobility product or group of products will depend on the person’s circumstances. Ask the following questions:
- Do they travel outside the home frequently?
- Are they a homebody?
- Do they have a caregiver to assist?
- Can they conduct other daily living activities either with or without assistive devices?
Being able to stand independently can mean the difference between living on your own or not. Fortunately, whether a caregiver is present or not, there are many strategies and tools to ensure that living on your own is both safe and enjoyable.