Physio for the Elderly: Regaining Strength & Mobility Regardless of Age

Physiotherapists work in a variety of settings including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, outpatient clinics, and clinics. A physiotherapist is an educated, licensed health care professional who works with patients to restore or improve mobility, reduce pain and lessen the need for long-term prescription medications. It is common for athletes or those recovering from surgery to seek care from a physiotherapist, but the aging process in and of itself can impair one’s function, creating the need for physiotherapy. Physiotherapy can also be used to treat specific conditions affecting the elderly such as Parkinson’s, stroke, Alzheimer’s, incontinence, and COPD.

1. Balance and Fall Prevention

Falls are the leading cause of injury and death in the elderly population. Physiotherapists work with patients through exercises and balance training to help increase balance and strength and reduce fall risk. They may also recommend a cane, walker or other assistive devices and instruct the patient on how to use the aid safely as the misuse of these aids only increases fall risk.

These are the following are signs that it may be time for your aging loved one to see a physical therapist:

  • Holding onto walls, furniture or someone else when walking
  • Appearing to have difficulty walking
  • Appearing to have difficulty arising from a chair

Physiotherapists not only help improve their patients’ physical abilities, but they provide education. For example, a physiotherapist may give tips and help one make his or her home as safe as possible to reduce fall risk.

2. Arthritis Management

Although arthritis is not a disease of old age, the risk of arthritis increases with age. Since physiotherapists treat and help prevent issues that limit the body’s ability to function in daily life, they are able to assist in the treatment of arthritis.

The goal of physiotherapy in arthritis includes improving the mobility and restoring the use of affected joints, increasing strength to support the joints, and maintaining fitness and the ability to perform daily activities.

3. Pain Management

Bothersome pain in multiple locations in the elderly is associated with decreased physical activity. Incorporating even light exercise into an elderly person’s pain management program can create positive benefits.

Treating pain in seniors is more complicated since the majority have two or more chronic conditions, and they are at higher risk of experiencing adverse drug events due to changes that accompany aging; therefore, physiotherapy is a good pain management treatment option.

Elderly patients should choose physical therapy when:

  • Experiencing pain
  • Strong painkillers are prescribed for pain
  • Pain or functionality problems are in the lower back, hip or knee: Physiotherapy exercise programs are a supported treatment for such injuries.
  • A patient wants to treat the pain rather than mask it. Painkillers dull the pain response, eventually masking the pain. Physiotherapists treat pain with exercise and other mobility practices to improve quality of life.

4. Finding the Right Care

If you or a loved one are seeking physiotherapy, PCA is here to help. Physiotherapy allows you to actively participate in your recovery and enjoy a team atmosphere where your PT is cheering you on as you maximise your movement.

Not only is it rewarding for patients receiving treatment, but our PTs express a genuine love for the career. One of our PT’s enthused that they love working with the senior population because it reminds them of their parents which is inspiring.

For more information on how to regain yours or your loved one’s independence through physical therapy, speak with someone at PCA today on 0813 028 0496.

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