Mobility and Independence

Mobility and Independence, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, will help you maintain your mobility and safeguard your independence. It will give you recommendations for exercise, diet, preventive care, and lifestyle choices that will keep you stronger and steadier with fewer aches and more stamina. Plus, you’ll get advice for aging in place, adapting and fall-proofing your home, choosing services, and more.

Mobility and Independence Cover

Living Better, Living Longer

With this Special Health Report, Living Better, Living Longer, you will learn the protective steps doctors recommend for keeping your mind and body fit for an active and rewarding life. You’ll get tips for diet and exercise, preventive screenings, reducing the risk of coronary disease, strengthening bones, lessening joint aches, and assuring that your sight, hearing, and memory all stay sharp. Plus, you’ll get authoritative…

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Discover the keys to a lifetime of self-sufficient living.  Protect your mobility with practical steps and strategies that will keep you strong, steady, and active.

You take pride and joy from being on your own.  The ability to rely on your own body, skills, and mental agility is a crucial part of a satisfying life.   

From doing daily errands to taking the trip of a lifetime, from going out with friends to staying in your own home, much of living happily and well depends on mobility. But mobility can fade away.

Mobility and Independence, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, will help you maintain your mobility and safeguard your independence.  It will give you recommendations for exercise, diet, preventive care, and lifestyle choices that will keep you stronger and steadier with fewer aches and more stamina.

When it comes to mobility, the single most important thing you can do is stay physically active.  You do have to use it or lose it.  The report highlights activities that will keep your joints limber, strengthen core muscles, help you avoid back pain, and build your sense of balance – all important for maintaining mobility.

Prepared by Harvard Medical School doctors, Mobility and Independence offers a wealth of useful guidance.  You’ll learn what to do to lessen the risks of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis…take pressure off your back…tone your core…maintain muscle power…and improve posture.

The report looks at ways to protect your vision, prevent hearing loss and keep your brain sharp.  It provides tips for ramping up the nutrients in your diet without boosting calories.   Plus, you’ll get advice for aging in place, adapting and fall-proofing your home, choosing services, and more.

This Special Health Report was prepared by Harvard Health Publishing in consultation with Scott D. Martin, MD, Associate Professor of Orthopedics, Harvard Medical School, Director, Joint Preservation Center, Sports Medicine Service, Massachusetts General Hospital. 53 pages. (2017)

 

  1. Mobility and quality of life    
    1. The importance of mobility  
    2. Measuring mobility      
    3. Improving your mobility
    4. Mind, mood, and mobility
    5. Seeing a geriatrician     
  2. Prime movers: Knees and hips
    1. How knees and hips work
    2. General knee and hip care
    3. How osteoarthritis can slow you down    
    4. Joint replacement       
    5. Osteoporosis and hip fractures
  3. A good foundation: Feet and ankles       
    1. Common foot problems       
    2. Keeping feet healthy   
    3. Active ankles     
  4. A stable support: Your back and posture
    1. Sprains and strains 
    2. Exercise, good posture, and other back-healthy habits     
    3. Nerve-compression syndromes
    4. Compression fractures 
    5. Hyperkyphosis   
  5. Masterful muscles       
    1. Building a strength training routine
  6. Balancing act   
    1. The body's balance system
    2. Balance and aging
    3. Health conditions that affect balance
    4. Reducing the risk of falls
  7. The mind and senses: Staying sharp
    1. Vision       
    2. Hearing
    3. Mobility and your brain
  8. Special Section: Is your diet sabotaging your mobility?
  9. Maintaining independence
    1. Aging in place
    2. Adapting and fall-proofing your home
    3. Adapting your lifestyle 
    4. Assessing your community   
    5. Making a move
    6. Staying social

Health information generally centers on avoiding or treating diseases, such as heart disease or
cancer. But if you look at what characterizes good health as you age, it’s not just sidestepping
illnesses like these; it’s whether you are strong and capable. Can you move easily and without
pain? Can you remain independent and self-sufficient? Can you stay in your home, or will you
need to move to assisted living or a nursing home? These are issues that concern everyone,
whether or not they are dealing with chronic diseases. Problems with mobility—such as slowed
walking or difficulty rising out of a chair—are often the first signs of a decline in health and
day-to-day function. That’s why the medical community has put a growing focus on helping
people maintain their mobility and safeguard independence as they age.

Some of that work should ideally begin decades before you begin to experience mobility
problems. Many of the health problems that come with aging could be avoided or lessened by
adopting practices like exercising, building muscle strength, following a balanced diet, and
maintaining a healthy weight in your 40s and 50s. But even at older ages—and even if you are
already facing declining health or a loss of independence—simple steps toward better health and
physical conditioning can improve your abilities and help prevent further loss of movement.

The goal of this Special Health Report is to help you achieve this. It will show you how mobility
relies on many body systems working together: your bones, muscles, and joints; your senses,
brain, and balance system. It will help you understand common age-related changes and health
conditions that cause people to begin losing their ability to move. It translates clinical and
scientific knowledge about mobility into practical steps you can take to stay healthy and strong.

As you will see, this report will encourage you to challenge your body with regular physical
activity and exercises that have been shown to preserve or improve mobility. But staying active
requires enlisting your mind as much as your body. Mobility is measured not just by the flights
of stairs you can climb, but also by your confidence in executing daily tasks, your willingness
to keep moving, and your effort to maintain connections to loved ones and to the wider world.
And when your mobility declines, your independence may depend on high-tech solutions, assistive
devices, and services that give you the support you need to remain on your own.

Whatever your age or health status, now is the time to ensure an active and capable future.

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