Keeping well: mobility

As people become less well, they may find it becomes more difficult to move around. This may be due to a number of factors such as weakness, fatigue, pain, breathlessness or a combination of things that just make it seem like too much effort.

While rest is important, it is also helpful to continue to move around independently for as long as possible, safely and comfortably.

Notes for carers – safety in the home

Try to arrange the areas where your friend or relative will be, so that pathways are as uncluttered as possible:

  • make sure doorways are not blocked by things jutting out
  • make sure the floor is clear of hazards such as flexes or cables and
  • make sure the flooring is secured, e.g. no loose rugs to trip over, no carpet edges or tiles lifting.

This will make it much easier to move about safely.

Useful tips

  • Encourage your friend or relative to change their position frequently and take short walks, even just around the room.
  • A simple walking aid, such as a stick or frame, may help to maintain mobility and improve confidence. It is much safer to use an aid than to clutch on to furniture (or people). A physiotherapist can advise on this (your St Christopher’s nurse can arrange an appointment, if this will help).
  • Make sure clothing is not hindering mobility or safety. Clothing needs to be loose and comfortable, but not too long or it may cause someone to trip (this can be a problem with nightwear or dressing gowns).
  • Footwear needs to be comfortable but secure. Avoid ‘sloppy’ footwear without backs. A slipper that encloses the whole foot is much safer than a mule type. Make sure that the sole of the shoe or slipper is not shiny or slippery.
  • It is much easier to get up and down from a firm base than a very soft one. Try to ensure that the bed has a firm base and the mattress does not sag, and that a firm and comfortable armchair is available (not too low or soft).
  • Further advice can be obtained from the St Christopher’s physiotherapist or occupational therapist, or from the NHS community physiotherapy or occupational therapist.

Helping someone to move

Do not try to physically help someone to do things they can manage unaided. It is safer, both for you and for them, to be as independent as possible. If a manoeuvre seems very difficult, or you are in any doubt, don’t attempt it – seek help.

Make sure you or your friend or relative knows what you are trying to do and how you will go about it. Using a good technique will often help with manoeuvres and enable someone to retain their independence for as long as possible.