Seniors often overestimate mobility: study

Seniors overestimate mobilityIt may be hard to accept that with aging you simply can’t do the same things like you used to. For this reason, many seniors tend to overestimate their abilities, including mobility as suggested by latest research.

Lead study author Timothy Platts-Mills said, “Ensuring that older adults discharged from the emergency department are able to safely function in their home environment is important because those who are unable to function safely at home are at risk for falls and return ER visits.”


Participants were given tasks such as getting out of bed, walking 10 feet, and returning to bed. Annually, 20-million seniors aged 65 and up visit emergency rooms and with Baby Boomers continuing to age, the number is expected to rise as well.

In the study group, 77 percent of patients could accurately assess their ability to perform tasks. From the group who reported they could complete the given tasks on their own, some required assistance and others simply did not complete the task. In the group who reported being able to perform the task with a cane or walker, 48 percent of them required additional assistance from a person or did not complete the task. Lastly, those who reported they could complete the task with human assistance, 24 percent were unable.

In a separate, previous study, Suzanne Salamon – an instructor for Harvard Medical School – said mobility is important for seniors.

“If you’re unable to get out then you can’t go shopping, you can’t go out with your friends to eat dinner or go to the movies, and you become dependent on other people to get you places,” said Salamon.

“So you become a recluse, you stay home, you get depressed. With immobilization comes incontinence, because you can’t get to the bathroom, you can develop urinary infections, skin infections. The list goes on.”


Loss of mobility in seniors may occur due to obesity, low physical activity, impaired strength and balance and chronic disease. Managing and improving these factors can give seniors a greater sense of self and independence which, in turn, can improve their health.

The findings were published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.