When we become less mobile it can have far greater consequences on our health than simply becoming slower or putting on weight. It can also have a major impact on mental health and well-being. Moving less and, therefore, getting out and about less can exacerbate feelings of frustration, worthlessness and anxiety and contribute to depression. So keeping mobile is vital for good physical and mental health as we age.
Difficulties staying mobile, for instance walking any distance, might come about due to ageing and arthritic joints or the result of more serious conditions such as a stroke or a heart attack. Mobility can also be affected by problems with hearing and eyesight, as well as many chronic health conditions that can affect people of all ages.
Immobility Affects Our Mental Well-Being
It’s obvious that ageing will take its toll physically and many people find it difficult to come to terms with their diminished physical capabilities. It can be difficult for those people who always led a very active life to adjust to physical limitations. On the other hand, people who have never been particularly physically active sometimes believe that slowing down is a natural part of ageing, but it doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be.
Whatever group you fall Into – whether you want to be more mobile but are struggling physically, or you have accepted lower mobility as a consequence of ageing – it is important to understand that reduced mobility will affect more than just your body. It will affect your mental well-being too.
So the implications of poor physical health due to a lack of mobility are greater than you might imagine because they can lead to mental health issues and depression. As we age it makes sense, therefore, to look at good health as a whole and not divide it into physical or mental.
Symptoms of Depression
Watch out for these symptoms of mental health issues and depression in elderly relatives or friends and speak to your GP if necessary, to get help:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Low self-esteem
- Crying more than usual
- Lacking motivation
- Unable to make simple decisions
- Feeling suicidal
- Thinking of harming yourself
Help & Support
We all know it can be easy to lose confidence if your balance isn’t good and you are unsteady on your feet, especially if you have already had a fall. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and about with the right help and support.
There are plenty of ways in which you can get both practical help and emotional support to stay as mobile as possible, which will help minimise the risk of developing poor mental health. The solution could be as simple as using a home care service where a dedicated carer can help you overcome physical limitations and provide both help and motivation to be more mobile. A carer who comes to your home will gradually encourage you to walk more each day, walk with you and help you attend local activities. All of which will Improve your mental well-being.
There are also all sorts of walking aids available that can help build your confidence and provide the support you need to stay as mobile as possible. Think of the pleasure of being able to enjoy your garden on a spring day again, meet with friends or make new friends at a day centre or simply walk to your local shops.
The Importance of Companionship
It can be lonely living alone and this can also contribute to poor mental health but staying mobile provides opportunities to see and talk to more people, which will have a positive effect on your mental well-being. The local shops, library, community or day centre, local church and other groups are all out there with other people like you happy to chat over a cup of tea and provide the companionship that we all, as human beings, need.