Mobility — the ability to move purposefully around your environment — is vitally important to health and well-being.
Nearly one-third to one-half of adults ages 65 and older experience impaired mobility. At first, it may not seem like a big deal — many people with impaired mobility learn to just move a little more slowly and a little more deliberately. Some people work around the problem by relying on a cane or walker.
That's why it's important to intervene to either prevent future mobility impairments or reduce existing ones. But taking impaired mobility "lying down" can cause your health to spiral downward. As you move less, pounds may start to creep on. You might withdraw from social relationships and activities that challenge you mentally. Exercise may become difficult, and lack of activity can worsen many health problems. This cycle of physical, emotional, and mental decline further restricts mobility.
For most people, the ability to rely on their own bodies, skills, and mental agility is a crucial part of living a satisfying life. Having full mobility helps you fully engage with the world and fosters a sense of self-sufficiency that can help you live independently well into your later years.
To learn how to protect your mobility and keep moving through a satisfying life, buy Mobility and Independence, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.