The Benefits and Importance Of Physical Therapy In Elderly

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

Physical therapy is extremely important for the elderly because it increases physical activity, helps control osteoporosis, and even manages the symptoms of arthritis. Learn more about supporting the elderly through providing physical therapy.

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Physical therapy plays an important role in senior living. Whether your senior is managing a long-term illness or wants to improve his/her mobility, physical therapy helps retain their independence. The goals of physical therapy are to reduce pain, improve mobility, improve balance & strength, and restore functionality.

Increases Physical Activity

On the other hand, maintaining their desired level of fitness becomes extremely difficult with aging since it reduces their flexibility and balance. Loss of these functions can result in slip and fall accidents and mobility issues over time. In fact, slips and falls are part and parcel of aging. Physical therapy helps an aged adult become physically active after a slip and fall accident.

Helps Control Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disease that results in a decrease in bone density and mass with aging. Osteoporosis could result in an increased risk of falls and subsequent fractures. Physical therapy is one of the most effective techniques for controlling the effects of this condition and helping your senior adult stay physically fit while aging.

Manages Symptoms of Arthritis

On the other hand, strength training included in an effective physical therapy regimen helps alleviate the painful symptoms of arthritis, which is a common condition that affects millions of senior adults across the country. For example, between 2013 and 2015, over 49.6% of people aged 65 years or older have reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis as per CDC statistics. Hence, the importance of physical therapy cannot be underestimated, especially when a person begins to age.

Physical Therapy For The Elderly – Tips For Caregivers

Physical therapy is great for elderly people who are recovering from injuries, illnesses, and surgery. It is often recommended as an effective treatment for chronic pain. If you are currently caring for a senior adult who is going through physical therapy, the following tips may be important for you:

Attend All The Doctor Appointments

Physical therapy is time-consuming. In fact, the healthcare provider may request the senior adult to participate in physical therapy sessions at least once or twice a week depending on his/her condition or injury. It is important that you encourage the senior to attend every appointment since each appointment will bring your senior one step closer to his/her physical health goal. If your senior misses appointments, it may take longer for him/her to progress.

Do The Homework

Physical therapy includes certain exercises that your senior needs to practice at home. You, as the caregiver, should encourage the senior to complete the homework and stay on track. The adult has the best chances of meeting his/her physical fitness goals when they do their homework properly and follow the exercise program designed by the physical therapist. Get the tools they need like resistance bands or pedal exercisers so that they can repeat their exercises at home

Look Out For Problems

Look out for problems in your senior when he/she performs the exercises at home. As a caregiver, it is important for you to be observant and take note of any problems or pains associated with the exercises. Inform your observations to the therapist so that he/she can modify the exercise program and help your senior reduce any pain he/she may be having.

Track The Progress

Recording the progress of your loved one is an important part of improving the mobility of your senior adult. Can they exercise, stand, or walk for longer periods than the previous week? Have they developed mobility skills that they didn’t have the previous week? As a caregiver, you should keep track of the progress of your loved one and report it to the physical therapist.

Support Your Family Member

Physical therapy is a long and arduous process, especially for aging adults. They may feel like completely giving up or skipping certain exercises in the program. Missing appointments is another concern in this regard. Your support as a caregiver is important for your loved one to succeed in his/her endeavors. Listen to their feelings and frustrations and try to motivate them to do the exercises as required.

Physical therapy plays an important role in senior living. The importance of physical therapy for the elderly cannot be underestimated. As a caregiver, you need to be supportive of your senior family member’s physical therapy needs, and encourage them to do the exercises as required by the therapist.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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