As people get older, the risk of injury or illness increases. Because mobility and balance can be more of a challenge, it's easier for seniors to slip and fall. Additionally, with conditions like osteoporosis, bones become more brittle, which can lead to a break. Arthritis, diabetes and other conditions can limit mobility.
The good news is that physical therapy and can offer treatment options for all of these conditions. Geriatric physical therapy is a great option for recovery as well as for older adults who need help adjusting to the changes in their bodies.
When you visit a physical therapist they will do an assessment to determine your current mobility and flexibility levels. From there they will create a unique, personalized plan to help you feel better, ease pain and improve your range of motion.
Physical therapy provides exercise opportunities
Physical fitness is important to continue throughout a lifetime. During physical therapy sessions, you'll perform various, simple exercises to help strengthen weak muscles. These workouts will improve overall health and wellness, keep your immune system strong to avoid getting sick and help your body function properly.
You'll also perform balance exercises to challenge your center of gravity. Balance is a challenge with older people and requires the systems of the body to all be working together properly. This can include your muscle strength, joint receptors, vision and inner ear. Physical therapy can work to help with all of these areas. By improving balance, older adults won't be at as a high of a risk of falling, getting injured and/or possibly breaking a bone.
For specific illness or medical issues, physical therapists employ different techniques for treatment and help people improve their overall quality of life.
Treating conditions with physical therapy
Arthritis: Many older adults have arthritis in their spine but might not always show symptoms. Physical therapy can help ease symptoms like pain and inflammation as well as improve range of motion with aquatic exercises, heat and other techniques.
Stroke: After a stroke, people can have a hard time with movement, especially on their weaker side. Physical therapy after a stroke works to strengthen the weaker arm or hand using motor imagery – imagining the movement- and mental and physical practice.
Incontinence: This affects many seniors, and they're taught to find the right muscles and use them correctly to avoid an accident. Pelvic exercises help strengthen these muscles and control bladder function.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: COPD causes problems with breathing. People are taught exercises that can help with shortness of breath by increasing aerobic capacity.
Alzheimer's disease: Exercise can slow down the onset of more serious symptoms and help with memory. People will perform "mirror" exercises copying what their physical therapist does as well as movements that create muscle memory.
With physical therapy, older adults can be safer in their own homes and live a more independent life.