How to Recognize the Hidden Warning Signs of Senior Mobility Issues

senior man walking upstairs

You may be missing these red flags that could point to senior mobility concerns.


Benjamin Franklin certainly had it right: An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to noticing and addressing senior mobility issues, prevention is essential. Falls in seniors result in 3 million emergency room visits, 300,000 hip fractures, and 32,000 deaths each year, according to research by the CDC.

Avoid a tragedy by keeping an eye out for these warning signs of increasing mobility issues in older adults:

  • Experiencing dizziness. Dizziness and problems with balance can develop from a variety of contributing factors that ultimately cause difficulty with mobility. It’s important to learn why these issues are occurring and attend to them immediately.
  • Steering clear of stairs. An older adult who appears to be getting around just fine but is avoiding going up or down stairs could be fearful of falling due to mobility changes.
  • Skipping physical activity. Another warning sign is a senior loved one who previously participated in some amount of exercise but now is choosing a much more inactive lifestyle. Exhaustion or weakness can result in issues with mobility.
  • Struggling to sit or stand. Notice if the senior finds it hard to either stand up from a seated position or to sit back down. Do they need something to hold onto for support?

One simple and effective option to gauge mobility and fall risk in older adults is the TUG (Timed Up and Go) test. The test should be carried out on a regular basis. Here is all it takes:

  • Place a sturdy chair up against the wall.
  • Mark a distance ten feet from the wall.
  • Have the senior sit in the chair.
  • When you tell them to go, start a timer, and have the person stand, walk to the 10’ mark, turn around, come back and sit down again.

Make sure to stand nearby as the senior performs the test to provide support if required. Track the outcome over a period of time and share with the person’s doctor for guidance. Find additional information on the test as well as a downloadable one-page assessment sheet.

If you pick up on any of these signs, it is time for you to have a frank conversation with the senior. Let the person know you are concerned, and schedule an appointment for a check-up with the physician. The utilization of some simple senior mobility aids could make an enormous amount of improvement in maintaining independence and safety.

Contact Golden Harmony, the top provider of at-home senior care in Raleigh, NC and the surrounding areas, for additional fall prevention tips for older adults, and also to learn about the numerous ways we can help improve quality of life for a senior you love.