There was an old saying: “Trees grow old from their roots, and people grow old from their legs.” Soreness of the waist and knees is often a problem that many Chinese-Australian elders encounter. Leg and feet issues will often lead to limited mobility. Elders could be affected when they go shopping and participate in social activities. Absence of social activity may also lead to mental health issues. Therefore, we recommend early assessment, early treatment, and more support.
Fortunately, in Australia, if the elderly’s are approved for a Home Care Package (HCP), thanks to this comprehensive benefit, the elderly’s mobility will have a lot of supports.
There are three levels of mobility:
Level 1: Able to walk independently. For example, the elderly take their grandchildren to school, go shopping by themselves and go to the community to meet friends by themselves.
Level 2: Able to walk a certain distance with the assistance of others or with walking aids. For example, you can go to a nearby park with a partner to support you and you can go grocery shopping with a cane or seat walkers.
Level 3: Complete inability to walk, requiring assistance from others to walk.
In the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test.
Subjects are asked to rise from a standard armchair, walk to a marker 3 metres away, turn, walk back, and sit down again. The test is a reliable and valid test for quantifying functional mobility that may also be useful in following clinical change over time.
- If scores are faster than 10 seconds, it is level 1 mobility, and they will be considered able to walk independently.
- 10 seconds to 20 seconds is considered level 2 mobility, which suggests that they require assistive aids.
- If it takes more than 20 seconds, it will be judged as level 3 mobility, and they are considered to be completely in need of assistance.
How a HCP can help seniors with reduced mobility.
Support 1: If the home environment is not conducive to the elderly walking, you may be able to install handrails at home.
You will need to ask an OT (occupational therapist) to assess the environment at the elderly’s home and give suggestions for installing handrails.
Many elderly people think that the handrail is a relatively simple project, they think they can just buy a handrail and install it on the wall, and there is no need to see an OT. But in fact, the design of the service, especially in the case of complex interior layout or bathroom layout, requires an OT to give a more professional judgement. Some handrails also consider design, material, load-bearing and other factors.
Then you need to have a qualified builder to install the handrails at home.
The cost of both occupational therapists and installations can be covered by a HCP if this is listed on your Care Plan and Budget.
Support 2: Mobility aids.
The purchase of assistive devices is often used by HCP recipients. For example, walking frames, four-wheel walkers, walking sticks, wheelchairs, electric scooters, etc. if there is a relevant care need, mobility aids can be covered by HCP.
Support 3: Wound nursing for diabetes.
This is to support and help manage a relatively common symptom of diabetes. It usually occurs in the form of diabetic feet. If it is not well controlled in the early stage, especially the wound, it may lead to subsequent inflammation and infection and may even require amputation.
Ms. Chen lives in Sydney. 3 months ago, Chen contacted us regarding her mother (Happy Living client) had undergone a toe amputation in the hospital due to diabetic foot infection and is currently preparing to be discharged from the hospital. Clearly, Chen’s Mum needs mobility support at level 3 (completely unable to walk on her own). In this situation, we also need to pay close attention to the healing of her wound to avoid any further infections. Therefore, it is very important for a nurse to monitor the diabetic foot and keep the wound clean and healthy.
Support 4: The Allied Health Team.
Allied Health is a term used to describe the broad range of health professionals who are not doctors or nurses. Allied health professionals aim to prevent, diagnose and treat a range of conditions and illnesses and often work within a multidisciplinary health team to provide the best patient outcomes.
For elderly people with long-term pain, the pain often occurs in the feet or back, which makes the elderly less likely to consider being willing to walk.
Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and chronic pain will affect the mobility of the elderly. If a HCP is approved, the Allied Health Team can help you recover from illness or injury , or help you manage chronic diseases.
There are many types of Allied Health professionals, including nutritionists, physical therapists, podiatrists, speech-language pathologists, and psychologists.
Note: Doctors, nurses, and dentists (and other oral health professionals) are not Allied Health professionals.
If an elderly person has poor mobility due to foot disease, they can see a podiatrist.
They might consider seeing a physical therapist if they have pain in their spine, legs, long-term, or start as soon as they walk or exercise.
In addition to the Allied Health Team, a HCP can also often cover traditional Chinese medicine services.
Many Chinese elders trust the treatment methods of TCM, such as TCM physiotherapy, which can also treat and relieve the pain in the legs and back of the elderly.
How the elderly can access supports for mobility with Happy Living.
If an elder falls accidentally or starts to walk wobbly, legs start to become weak, and there is a potential risk of falling, please contact your Care Manager. They will report to our clinical team and the clinical team will assess the situation and advise the elder accordingly, such as suggesting that they see an Allied Health Team or consider installing a handrail or buying a cane.
If you are diagnosed with a chronic disease, please also inform your Care Manager and they will report this to the medical team for further advice and support for you.
You are welcome to contact Happy Living. Our customer service number is 1300 911 728 (Mandarin, Cantonese, English).
We have many years of industry experience and look forward to helping you!