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Tips for Handling Mobility Issues When an Elderly Parent Can’t Walk

An elderly man using a walker being supported by a loved one

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


August 31, 2020

According to the United States Census Bureau, issues with mobility have become the most common disability elderly Americans face. Disability issues create problems with walking, climbing stairs, and overall stability.

When your elderly parents develop mobility issues, you may feel fear or insecurity about leaving them at home alone. The last thing you want is to deal with an elderly parent falling when no one is around to help.

However, there are plenty of solutions for how to help someone who can’t walk that don’t involve moving your loved ones into a nursing home or assisted living facility. What are those solutions?

Read on to find out!


Determine If a Mobility Device Can Help

One of the first steps to take is to look into mobility devices. Note that if the mobility device is recommended by a doctor and your parent meets a series of other qualifications, Medicare will cover part or all of the cost for this mobility device. Some of the most used mobility devices are canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and electric scooters.

Canes and walkers are useful if your parent is able to walk but needs additional support in the process. Canes and walkers can help maintain balance and may relieve some of the pressure from your parent’s hips, knees, and ankles.

Wheelchairs and scooters are preferable for elderly people who have limited lower body strength and can no longer walk frequently or at all. If your parent has limited upper body strength, as well, an electric wheelchair is best for them. These do not require as much core strength as an electric scooter or as much arm strength as a manual wheelchair.

We offer in-home physical therapy in the Charlottesville and Richmond, VA areas.

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Address Mobility Barriers Around the Home

Many elderly people prefer to age at home, remaining in an environment that is familiar and brings them feelings of comfort and independence. In many cases, this is perfectly fine! You may just need to address various features of the home that could cause problems for someone with mobility issues.

First, address any areas that could increase your parent’s risk of falling. Trouble areas to focus on are the bathroom, kitchen, and any other rooms with hard flooring. Install non-slip mats as needed and make sure that any area rugs will not trip your parent.

Second, make sure there are adequate handrails that your parent can hold on to for added stability. Once again, focus on the bathroom and install rails in both the tub or shower and next to the toilet. If there are any steps in or around the home, make sure there are sturdy handrails installed on either side.


What to Do When Elderly Parent Can’t Walk

If your parent is reliant on a wheelchair, make sure that furniture is not crowded together in a way that will inhibit their wheelchair use. You may also want to invest in a chairlift if your parent has a staircase in their home that they cannot avoid using and replace any steps outside with a ramp. Finally, it may be necessary to get a walk-in tub or shower that is equipped to receive a waterproof wheelchair.


Receive Medical Evaluation

Sometimes, mobility issues are exacerbated by other medical conditions. If you find that your loved one’s mobility is worsening, make sure that they go to their doctor to receive a medical evaluation.

Conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and Parkinson’s can all affect mobility. In some cases, diabetes may also contribute to mobility loss. Oftentimes, additional health factors such as excess weight can make mobility more difficult because it adds strain on the bones and joints.

If your parent has a medical condition that is affecting their mobility, make sure that they are receiving treatment. This may be physical therapy, medication, or surgery. 


Bring In Professional At-Home Care

One of the best ways that you can help someone who can’t walk well is to get them at-home care. At-home caregivers can provide a number of services that will ease your elderly parent’s life while they age at home. Let’s take a closer look at just some of the ways that at-home care will help your parent with mobility issues.


Toileting, Grooming, and Eating

When mobility grows more difficult, it becomes harder for our parents to meet their basic needs. At-home caregivers can assist with any toileting needs, helping to avoid issues with elderly parent soiling. Caregivers can also assist with grooming, which includes bathing and dressing, and cooking and eating meals.


Exercise and Range of Motion Support

Mobility worsens when we lose our range of motion. If walking causes pain or discomfort, your parent may lose interest in exercising and stretching their muscles and joints, which in turn makes their mobility issues even harder to overcome. At-home caregivers can assist with body-appropriate exercises and range of motion activities that will keep your parent active and fit.



If your parent uses a mobility device, you may be uncomfortable with them getting on and off of buses or in and out of cabs without assistance. Not only can at-home caregivers help with ambulation around the house but they can provide transportation to and from doctor appointments and errands. 


Get At-Home Care for Your Parent with Mobility Issues

If your parent is struggling with mobility issues but you know that assisted living isn’t right for them, consider working with an at-home caregiver. That way, you can rest assured that they are taken care of even when you can’t be there!

If you are in Richmond, Charlottesville, or Charleston, read more about our at home care services or call our Care Team today at 434.202.8565.

Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or medication routine.


We offer in-home physical therapy in the Charlottesville and Richmond, VA areas.

Learn More