Stop mobility problems now

How are you getting around?

If it's not as well as you used to, don't hide it from your doctor, your loved ones or even yourself.

Admit it, because limited mobility problems that start small are often big warning signs of impending physical decline -- a decline that could ultimately stop you from getting out and doing the things you love.

And in too many cases, limited mobility problems can lead to the nursing home -- or, worse, right to the grave.

Now, a new review of the research finds two simple questions doctors can ask --questions you can even ask yourself right now -- to figure out if you're at risk of falling into this downward spiral:

1. For health or physical reasons, do you have difficulty climbing up 10 steps or walking a quarter of a mile?

2. Because of underlying health or physical reasons, have you modified the way you climb 10 steps or walk a quarter of a mile?

A quarter of a mile is a single lap around the track at your local high school -- and if you can't make it around once (or if you've changed the way you walk or can't get up those 10 steps), don't try to "tough it out," and don't expect it to get better by itself.

If anything, it will get worse -- unless you take action now, including working with a physical therapist to regain your strength and get back on your feet. In some cases, you might need a cane or walker, especially if you're working your way back from injury.

I know many seniors refuse these helpers as a point of pride -- but don't be too proud here. Refusing help means you might not move at all... and if you stop moving, you could suffer a steeper, faster decline into limited mobility -- a spiral that could lead to a complete loss of independence or even an early death.

Don't let this happen to you or your loved ones. If you suspect any limited mobility problems, speak to a doctor who can help figure out what's wrong or refer you to a physical therapist.