October is National Physical Therapy Month, and that means it’s time to recognize all those individuals whose persistence helps seniors become more mobile and more flexible every day. Senior home care often involves some form of physical therapy, since many seniors are obliged to recover from some kind of surgical procedure, or even just to improve on their flexibility because they’re not as active as they used to be. In Oxford and elsewhere around the country, take a moment to express your gratitude to all those professionals who help to improve the quality of life for seniors who aren’t as mobile or flexible as they would like to be.
The goal of physical therapy for seniors
One of the primary reasons that seniors need physical therapy is because they have experienced some kind of fall. Most people lose strength and flexibility as they age, and their balance is often disrupted, so it’s much easier to undergo a fall than it would have been at an earlier age. Physical therapy aims to help restore functionality, reduce or eliminate pain, and improve mobility for seniors so they can achieve better balance and strength.
In the long term, this can help the senior maintain their independence because they’ll be better physically equipped to fend for themselves and do things on their own. Another significant contributor to falls experienced by seniors is osteoporosis, which is a disease that results in a senior having lower bone mass and density, which in turn can lead to a greater risk for bone fractures.
Another good reason for engaging in physical therapy is to help reduce the symptoms commonly associated with arthritis. Physical therapy includes the practice of many exercises which help to increase the range of motion for joints and to provide greater overall strength for the practitioner. Many seniors learn how to alleviate pains and discomforts by practicing physical therapy, simply by putting various physical techniques into practice, and by modifying their own activities. Many seniors become involved with physical therapy after an extended hospital stay because it is necessary to rebuild strength and flexibility following a long layup.
Major benefits of physical therapy
Whenever a senior has been involved with some kind of fall or has been in an extended hospital stay for some reason, it can be a difficult prospect to regain the independence they once enjoyed. Physical therapy will help seniors to recover at least some of their former flexibility and strength, and in many cases, seniors can once again achieve levels of wellness they formerly enjoyed. The main objective of physical therapy is to help a senior return to living an active lifestyle, so they can enjoy and improve their quality of life. Here are some of the specific benefits which can be achieved through physical therapy:
- Reduced risk of falls – since falls are the number one cause of injury in seniors, physical therapy incorporates a number of extension exercises which can help to avoid falls in the future. Falls can be very serious for some seniors, involving bone fractures and possibly life-threatening injuries. This makes it important to restore strength and flexibility as much as possible, so as to avoid more falls.
- Pain treatment – physical therapy has been demonstrated to be very effective and very inexpensive as a means of treating chronic pain in seniors. Without physical therapy, it might be necessary for a senior to go through a surgical procedure, or at least to embark on a program of regularly prescribed medications. Going through physical therapy eliminates the need for surgery and drugs, and helps an individual to recover all on their own.
- Lower risk of infections – all seniors who are mostly inactive have a much higher risk of developing skin problems like ulcers, or of being afflicted with pneumonia. Both of these maladies come about due to prolonged inactivity, and they can be avoided by regular physical therapy.
- Healthy lifestyle – by now, everyone on the planet probably realizes that exercise is a key component of good health, and that is especially important for seniors. Any senior who becomes involved with physical therapy will automatically be doing more exercise and will be more active, so they can lower the risk of diseases associated with inactivity. It will also lessen the chance of a senior becoming obese, which is a condition that accounts for approximately 18% of all adult mortalities in this country.
The role of physical therapy
Physical therapy is playing an increasing role in the lives of many senior citizens in the US. As it becomes better known that an active lifestyle is critical to extending life and to increase quality of life, physical therapy which encourages exercise and joint usage is becoming more prominent in the lives of most seniors. It’s also a terrific way of reducing or eliminating pain, managing chronic illnesses, overcoming arthritic discomfort, and it provides a whole host of other benefits. That makes it likely that physical therapy will continue to play a major role in the lives of seniors, and will continue helping them to maintain an independent lifestyle.