Are you involved in the care of a senior and wondering if physical therapy could improve their quality of life? As people age, they face different physical challenges than when they were younger. The good news is that the benefits of physical therapy for seniors can definitely be a big help, and here are six reasons why:
1. Promotes Independence
As people age, they can lose a certain amount of mobility. For older adults, physical therapy (PT) can enable them to move around more easily and enhance their ability to carry out routine tasks such as:
- Meal preparation
- House cleaning
- Doing laundry
- Weeding the garden
2. Helps to Prevent Injuries From Falls
Falls are more likely to happen as people age. Physical therapists teach seniors how to stay active without putting themselves at risk for falls.
3. Helps With Rehabilitation
Physical therapy for seniors can help older adults rehabilitate their bodies after an illness or injury. A skilled therapist will adapt exercises based on each patient’s needs and abilities.
4. Speeds Up Recovery
With age comes the increased possibility of illness or injury. PT can help ease pain and discomfort by:
- Reducing swelling and inflammation
- Helping the body heal faster
- Speeding up recovery time.
5. Aids in Pain Management
PT can often help those suffering from chronic pain more effectively than medication alone. Medications are often prescribed to manage pain, but many drugs come with unwanted side effects and increased risks for health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
6. Assists in Controlling Symptoms of Certain Health Conditions
Physical therapy for seniors can help control the symptoms of certain conditions, such as:
- Osteoporosis (brittle bones). Many people over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. PT can help improve bone health and decrease bone loss.
- Osteoarthritis. A physical therapist can prescribe exercises to lessen pain and increase range of motion.
- Vertigo. A specialized vestibular therapist can help with dizziness and balance problems such as vertigo, a problem arising in the inner ear.
- Neurological conditions. These include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis. PT can work the neurological and musculoskeletal systems to improve function, control tremors, and maintain balance and stability.
- Cancer. PT can ease some kinds of cancer pain and enable more independence at home.
- Incontinence. As people grow older, it’s more common to leak urine, leading to less socialization and exercise, thus worsening physical and mental health. Specialized PT can teach sufferers to contract, relax, and coordinate the pelvic floor muscles to help minimize this problem.
Benefits of physical therapy for seniors can also include:
- Reduce pain from fibromyalgia by improving range of motion, strengthening muscles, and reducing inflammation.
- Train stroke victims to regain mobility.
- Enhance recovery from knee or hip replacement surgery.
- Minimize pain by removing knots or trigger points within muscle tissues.
How Family and Friends Can Help
It can be tricky to navigate a PT program for a senior. Help your senior choose a physical therapist who understands their physical needs and goals.
Physical Therapy for Seniors – Where to Find a Therapist
Your senior’s doctor can provide a referral to a therapist able to treat their specific needs. Also, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has an online tool to help you find a local physical therapist. In some states, you don’t need a doctor’s referral.
If You Need Help in Columbia, SC
The professional in-home caregivers at Caring Healthcare can help drive your elderly loved one to their PT appointments and ensure that they stick to their exercises at home. Our goal is to help seniors stay active so they can continue enjoying activities that enhance their life and help them maintain a sense of independence.