Many older adults who require care also experience limited mobility. Devices like walkers, canes, and rollators can encourage independence at home, but more complex activities like bathing, changing, or using the toilet often require additional assistance. If you provide care for someone with mobility issues, this article is for you. In it, we discuss the impacts of immobility on your loved one’s physical and mental health, what you can do as a caretaker to prevent negative outcomes, and highlight some of the products we carry here at Carewell that can make your life easier.

Some of the medical conditions or disabilities that could be classified as limited mobility are paralysis, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Spina Bifida, and others.

How does limited mobility affect my loved one’s health?

The first step in caring for someone with difficulty using mobility is understanding that they are also at risk of certain health problems. When someone is unable to get up and move around freely, their circulatory system slows down, allowing their blood to pool and form clots.

Limited mobility increases the risk of other health problems as well, including:

  • Skin breakdown

  • Pressure ulcers

  • Respiratory issues

  • Muscle atrophy

  • Weak bones

  • Progression of pre-existing chronic illnesses

It also increases the risk of mental health problems like anxiety and depression. What’s more, the lack of independence can result in social isolation and loneliness, resulting in cognitive impairment. Fortunately, there are ways to help care recipients navigate and avoid these issues.

How can caretakers help individuals with limited mobility?

There are several things caretakers can do to help many people with limited mobility decrease these risks and stay healthy, including:

Bilateral exercise

Kerry Mellin, an experienced caregiver, and founder of EazyHold Mellin Works LLC, recommends encouraging your loved one to use both of their arms equally (if they’re able).

“Bilateral exercise is an important tool for fitness and pain reduction,” said Mellin. “Make sure your loved one has the necessary tools to use both sides of their body equally and incorporate weight lifting and exercises. Don’t forget the weaker side of the body when doing daily activities like eating, grooming, writing, or playing cards.”

Shift their weight regularly

People with limited mobility are more likely to develop skin problems. Brittany Ferri, Ph.D., OTR/L, CPRP, Founder and Occupational Therapist at Simplicity of Health in Rochester, New York recommends changing your loved one’s position throughout the day.

“This relieves pressure on the skin and prevents injuries like bedsores where the skin breaks down from a lack of oxygen and pressure relief. Those in wheelchairs can also benefit from pressure-relief cushions to help this process when sitting.”

From Kiera Powell, RN, “Frequent repositioning makes a huge difference. I would recommend placing a pillow lengthwise beneath the patient’s hip and lower back and alternating sides every other hour. Additional pillows should be placed under each arm and beneath the calves to float the heels off the bed. Another preventative measure for pressure injuries is to place a foam dressing on the patient’s sacrum. If choosing to do this, check under the dressing at least once a day and replace when soiled.”

Activities to pass the time

Your loved one’s mental health is just as important as their general well-being. It’s crucial they feel heard, seen, and able to connect, regardless of their physical capabilities.

Provide support by encouraging your senior’s creativity. If you care for someone who’s unable to move, have them dictate a poem, song, or story to you. If your loved one has some mobility, encourage them to try activities like coloring, knitting, or working a crossword puzzle.

Staying busy can make the days more interesting and less tedious. Plus, Mellin says creating something that is tangible will “connect [your loved one] to the outside world and that can be a legacy to remember.”

Don’t forget to care for yourself

Caring for someone with a disability or limited mobility requires strength and physical endurance. “One of the most important things you can do to protect your body when you’re caring for someone who is immobile is to take a class on transfers and repositioning,” said Melanie Musson, an experienced senior caregiver with Life Insurance Post. “If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll get hurt, and you won’t be able to be a caregiver anymore.”

What caretaking supplies do I need to help someone with limited mobility?

Now that you know a little more about caring for someone with mobility issues, let’s look at some of the related best selling products here on the Carewell website:

Mobility Devices—Walkers, canes, wheelchairs, and rollators

Mobility devices like walkers, canes, and rollators can help your loved one maintain their balance and independence. Still, it’s best to only use these devices after consulting with a physical therapist or your senior’s primary care physician.

Walkers are ideal for anyone who has difficulty keeping their balance or bearing weight on both legs. You might also benefit from a walker if you have poor vision or problems with coordination.

Canes are usually recommended for people who experience pain or weakness on one side of the body. If you care for someone who’s relatively mobile, but they experience hip, knee, or leg pain, a cane is worth considering.

Wheelchairs might be necessary if your loved one is paralyzed or is unable to bear the weight of their upper body.

Rollators are very similar to walkers, but rollators have wheels and are pushed instead of lifted.

Gait belts help with moving your loved one from their bed into their wheelchair or vice versa. Pro tip: Check out this step-by-step guide on how to use a gait belt from the University of Michigan.

Leg lifters are sturdy straps designed for people with limited leg strength. It makes daily activities like getting out of bed or into the car much easier.

Recommended Read: Arthritis Relief—Care Kit Recommendations

Accessories for Limited Mobility in the Bedroom

If you care for someone who is bed-limited, you might want to invest in the following:

Body aligners are a must-have accessory for people who are bed-limited. They encourage proper posture and relieve pressure on areas of skin susceptible to bedsores.

Elbow protector pads reduce the force on the elbows, providing relief. Bony areas of the body like the knees, elbows, and wrists are more likely to experience pressure sores.

Transfer boards make it easy to move someone from their bed to a wheelchair or another piece of furniture (like a couch). The transfer board we carry is made of Baltic birch with a clear lacquer finish and can hold up to 440 pounds.

Accessories for Limited Mobility in the Bathroom

Bathrooms are notorious for having slippery surfaces and moist environments—two factors that may increase the risk of a fall. To protect your mobility challenged senior, consider installing the following items in your bathroom:

Toilet safety rails make transitioning from a wheelchair, rollator, or walker to the commode that much easier.

Bath benches can help keep your loved one comfortable and supported during bath or shower time since you might not be able to fit a wheelchair into the bathtub.

Wall grab bars make transitioning from the toilet or tub to a wheelchair or other mobility device easy.

If you have questions about mobility devices or need help making the right decision, reach out to our friendly Care Team. Call (800) 696-CARE or send an email to

Recommended Read: Checklist for Urinary Incontinence Care—PDF Download

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.