Three icons showing levels of mobility

The Continuum of Mobility: A Guide to Decreased Mobility



The ability to keep an independent and active quality of life is an essential goal for most older adults. Most find aging in place to be a necessity (90% of seniors intend to stay in their current house as they age). Everyone experiences this differently and has unique needs based on their situation. As we get older, mobility issues become common as our bodies are unable to perform certain activities of daily living. Different mobility issues require different levels of aids for mobility.  

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.
Coping 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. The Continuum of Mobility can help identify the specific senior mobility aids one might need to remain mobile or independent. It can reveal the combination of mobility products required to get around effectively without a struggle.

A funnel showing the various levels of mobility. Text,The continuum of mobility: A guide to decreased mobility ; Further details are provided below

Passive Mobility Devices

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.

Active Mobility Devices

Those who require more assistance to stand will move to "active devices" that augment the passive ones or replace them entirely. If standing without assistance is not possible, 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 or walking sticks
  • Crutches
  • Walkers
  • Rollators
  • And mobility scooters

Power and manual wheelchairs and transport chairs 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?
  • Is there a need for various mobility aids in different environments or areas of their home?

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.

Mobility is one of the most critical areas to look at for those that struggle to move around. Not having the right mobility aid(s) in place can pose a severe threat to the well being of seniors. We always recommend talking to a medical professional or physical therapist to see what mobility product matches up with one's needs and lifestyle.

About the Author

Head shot for Brandon Landgraf

Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.

About Carex Health Brands


Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.

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