Elderly Mobility Scale

If you are treating a supposedly frail elderly patient, you can gauge them using the Elderly Mobility Scale to assess their mobility. Learn more about this scale with this guide!

By Matt Olivares on Jun 20, 2024.

Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

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What is the Elderly Mobility Scale?

The Elderly Mobility Scale s a clinical assessment tool created to assess patients of advanced age and their mobility to see if they are at risk of getting into accidents (specifically falling) and if they require any assistance to do certain things, specifically activities of daily living (ADLs).

The scale is divided into seven parts, each one covering a certain activity. Here are the seven sections of the scale:

  • Lying to Sitting
  • Sitting to Lying
  • Sitting to Standing
  • Standing
  • Gait
  • Timed 6-meter Walk
  • Functional Reach

The person using this scale will have to administer a few tests to observe the patient performing certain actions, and they will be scored based on the scale's criteria, discussed in-depth later on.

The tests involved in the said scale will give the healthcare professional a good picture of the elderly patient's functional status and mobility. The results of these tests can be used to help guide treatment decisions and plans that will hopefully improve the patient's functional mobility or at least help them cope, live, and accept their new reality if the decline in their mobility can't be reversed.

Printable Elderly Mobility Scale

Download this Elderly Mobility Scale to assess mobility in older patients.

How to use the Elderly Mobility Scale

The Elderly Mobility Scale is easy to use. Each part has set rating options for you to select from based on observations. You need to pick the best rating. Here's an overview of the seven parts and what exactly you need to do for each.

Before anything, make sure to prepare the following:

  • A comfortable examination bed
  • A chair (the patient must be able to plant both feet on the floor when seated)
  • A room or big enough space with a flat surface
  • Tape to mark the distance
  • A yardstick to measure distance
  • A stopwatch
  • Assistants to help you and the patient if needed

Once you have all of the above, you can conduct the tests necessary for the Elderly Mobility Scale.

Lying to sitting

  • Have your patient lie down on an examination bed in a supine position with their legs straightened
  • Make them assume a sitting position (with their legs off the bed, not on)
  • Make sure to provide assistance, if they need it

Sitting to lying

  • Begin with a sitting position and have them lie down again in a supine position with their legs straightened
  • Make sure to provide assistance, if they need it

Sitting to standing

  • Have your patient sit down on a chair. Make sure that the chair is high/low enough that the patient is able to sit with their back straightened and can plant both their feet on the floor
  • Have them stand up on their own, or with assistance from others if needed
  • Tell them to stand up as soon as you say “Begin.” You're going to time them using a stopwatch. When they assume a full-standing position, deactivate the stopwatch

Standing

  • Have them stand up and maintain their balance for ten to twenty seconds. They can stand with their feet together or with one foot in front of the other (with the back of their foot touching their toes)
  • Make sure to ask them to reach for something or someone nearby while maintaining balance, so make sure there's a non-sharp object they can grab or a person they can extend their hand to near them

Gait

  • Have your patient walk around the area or room for two minutes. Observe how they walk.

Timed 6-meter walk

  • Before anything, make a starting line and a finish line. These lines must be 6 meters apart from each other. Use a yardstick to measure this.
  • Then, same as test #5, but this time, the patient has to follow a few instructions
  • Tell them to walk in a straight line from the starting line to the finish line
  • Make sure to say “Begin” to signal them to start. 
  • Make sure to walk with them so you can prevent them from falling if ever.

Functional reach

  • Have your patient stand before a wall. They should be standing alongside the wall, with their arm close to the wall at 90 shoulder flexion, and having them close their fist.
  • First, measure the starting position of your client, specifically the starting position of the third metacarpal head on the yardstick
  • Afterward, instruct your patient to reach forward as far as possible without moving their feet. Make sure to be close to them just in case they show signs of falling
  • Record their reach, a.k.a the third metacarpal head on the yardstick. When recording the reach, keep in mind that you're recording in centimeters

How to score the Elderly Mobility Scale

Earlier, we mentioned that the Elderly Mobility Scale has set answer choices per part. Here are the choices for each one and what their corresponding scores are:

Lying to sitting

  • Independent = 2 points
  • Needs help of 1 person = 1 point
  • Needs help of 2+ people = 0 points

Sitting to lying

  • Independent = 2 points
  • Needs help of 1 person = 1 point
  • Needs help of 2+ people = 0 points

Sitting to standing

  • Independent in under 3 seconds = 3 points
  • Independent in over 3 seconds = 2 points
  • Needs help of 1 person = 1 point
  • Needs help of 2+ people = 0 points

Standing

  • Stands without support and is able to reach = 3 points
  • Stands without support but needs support to reach = 2 points
  • Stands but needs support = 1 point
  • Stands only with physical support of another person = 0 points

Gait

  • Independent with or without a walking stick/cane = 3 points
  • Independent with a walking frame = 2 points
  • Mobile with walking aid but erratic / unsafe = 1 point
  • Needs physical help or constant supervision to walk = 0 points

Timed 6-meter walk

  • Was able to finish under 15 seconds = 3 points
  • Was able to finish between 16 – 30 seconds = 2 points
  • Took over 30 seconds to finish = 1 point
  • Unable to cover 6 meters = 0 points

Functional Reach

  • Their reach is over 20 cm. = 4 points
  • Their reach is between 10 - 20 cm. = 2 points
  • Their reach is under 10 cm. = 0 points

After getting all scores, calculate the sum, then refer to the result interpretation per score provided below:

Scores of 0 - 9 

Having a score of 0-9 means that the patient is dependent on mobility maneuvers. They require help/support for basic activities of daily living

Scores of 10 - 13 

Having a score of 10-13mean that the patient is borderline in terms of safe mobility and independence when it comes to activities of daily living, but they still require help with some mobility maneuvers

Scores of 14+ 

Having a score of more than 14 means that the patient can perform mobility maneuvers alone and safely, plus, they are independent when it comes to basic activities of daily living

Elderly Mobility Scale Example

Now you know what the Elderly Mobility Scale is, what kinds of tests you must conduct to assess a patient using it, and how the scale is scored, it’s time to see what it looks like. Here’s a filled-out Elderly Mobility Scale PDF for your reference:

Download this Elderly Mobility Scale Example (Sample) here:

Elderly Mobility Scale Example

If you like what you see and believe it’s useful as part of your current roster of tools, feel free to download an Elderly Mobility Scale PDF from us! You can choose to print multiple copies if you like filling things out physically, or if you want to go paperless, you can select your ratings and write down the total score on the PDF since it has tickable radio buttons and an editable field for the final score!

When is it best to use the Elderly Mobility Scale?

If an older person is scheduled for an appointment with you because they want to be checked for mobility disabilities or deterioration, that's the best time for you to use this scale. Make sure to inform them about this beforehand so they aren't surprised by all these tests you're going to make them do when you meet up.

Do note that when the patient of advanced age is scheduled to get checked for their mobility issues, there might be a chance that they have an array of potential problems they are dealing with or are at risk of developing. Given this, healthcare professionals often conduct comprehensive evaluations of a patient, which often include various tests.

These comprehensive evaluations are the best times to insert the use of the Elderly Mobility Scale since it will have you take a look at different aspects of a patient's movement capabilities, like if they can assume a sitting position from a lying position, how far their functional reach is, and if they can maintain their balance while simply standing.

It's best to include this as part of comprehensive evaluations because it can only give you a general sense of how good or bad an the patient's mobility is. It's not a diagnostic tool. It's best to conduct other tests to understand their condition better.

Who can use the Elderly Mobility Scale?

The Elderly Mobility Scale is a physical assessment tool, and its name already suggests that it is primarily used to assess geriatric patients. Given this, the healthcare professionals that can use this scale for their evaluation of older patients are:

Geriatricians 

These professionals are highly trained and experienced in treating older patients because their whole profession revolves around caring for them. They will be able to administer the activities that are part of the scale properly, make educated observations as they watch their patients perform the activities, interpret the results, and determine what goes into the care plan of a patient.

Physical and occupational therapists

While these professionals aren't exactly focused on treating older patients, that doesn't mean they can't treat them! These people are highly trained in administering physical examinations and even rehabilitating people to improve their physical functions.

So long as the healthcare professional using the scale is familiar with how to deal with and treat patients, plus they know about the activities that are part of the scale, they can definitely add this to their roster of clinical assessments.

As a reminder, this scale should not be the sole basis of what goes into the patient's treatment. It's best to use it alongside other assessments so that your decisions concerning the elderly patient are well-informed.

What are the benefits of the Elderly Mobility Scale?

Identify the risk of falling

Falling is one of the worst things that can happen to an older patient. Some of the exercises that are part of this scale involve the patient's capability of maintaining their balance in one way or another. By having them perform the activities, you can observe if they show signs that could indicate them being at risk of falling.

Identify other potential related mobility problems

Besides falling, the scale can also assess if they are dealing with other possible mobility-related problems or if they risk developing them. This will become evident when they do activities tied to this scale, like simply changing positions from Lying to Sitting and vice-versa. If these problems are identified early, the patient can overcome or minimize the risk of these problems as they age.

Help development of appropriate care plans.

The final score of the patient, as well as your observations of them while they did the activities tied to the scale, should serve you well when it comes to developing a tailor-fitted care plan for them. Are there certain aspects of their mobility that can be improved based on the results and the test results of other assessments? Or is the decline of their mobility inevitable? What activities of daily living can they do on their own? What activities should they avoid to not be at risk of falling? These are just some of the questions you can answer when you accomplish the scale and when you take into account other test results.

Used as a monitoring tool

You can use this scale again down the line for patients who follow your implemented treatment plan, especially if they visit you for a routine check-up. It can serve as a monitoring tool moving forward, and you can use it to determine whether your patient is improving. In turn, you'll also be able to determine if your treatment plan is effective or needs some tweaking.

Why use Carepatron for geriatric patient-oriented work?

If you are a geriatrician or a physical therapist, you'll definitely have a blast exploring the Carepatron platform because we can help you expand your roster of clinical tools that will definitely improve the quality and efficiency of your work!

How are we going to do that, you ask? Well, we have a massive resource repository filled to the brim with worksheets, assessments, surveys, general treatment plans, progress note templates, and a whole lot more. We cover a wide variety of healthcare fields, especially yours!

Take the time to browse around. You will eventually find tools that might be an excellent fit for your work, like the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB Test), Geriatric Depression Scale, Timed Up and Go Test, and more. Feel free to download as much as you want or need!

Besides our treasure trove of resources, we also have a storage system you can use. This system will allow you to store your clinical files in a HIPAA-compliant manner, and you can set up who is allowed to access them besides you! You can even store filled-out Elderly Mobility Scales with us! Doing so essentially makes backups of them. Storing them with us also makes them easily accessible to you whenever you want, wherever you are, so long as you have internet access.

We at Carepatron are all about helping healthcare professionals with their work, so take advantage of our platform so we can help streamline your workflows and help you preserve your work!

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How long does it take to complete the Elderly Mobility Scale?
How long does it take to complete the Elderly Mobility Scale?

Commonly asked questions

How long does it take to complete the Elderly Mobility Scale?

That depends. This scale comes with several activities that need to be done to score the patient so it may take between 15 minutes to an hour. Don’t be surprised if it takes an hour since you are dealing with an elderly patient.

Are the activities involved in the Elderly Mobility Scale risky?

Yes. These activities involve a person’s mobility, and since the primary population for this scale is elderly people, they are obviously at risk of losing their balance. That’s why you and your assistants should help provide support to these patients while performing the activities. This is so they don’t get hurt while doing them.

Can I administer this in a home setting?

Of course, so long as you have the needed equipment, you can definitely administer this in a home setting, if ever you are conducting a house call.

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