Recent studies show that one in four Americans currently age 65 will live to be at least 90 years old. While that’s positive news as it means we are living healthier lives than ever before, with advancing age often comes a loss of strength, flexibility and balance that can impact our daily lives. These physical changes can make living a healthy lifestyle somewhat difficult. Plus, our mobility may become limited, or we may be dealing with pain from chronic conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis.
This is why physical therapy for seniors is beneficial in improving overall quality of life. The goal of physical therapy is to restore a person’s functionality, to increase mobility and to reduce pain. Seniors who take part in physical therapy, especially following an injury or surgery, are more likely to return to the independent lifestyle they’re accustomed to.
Some of the main benefits of physical therapy for seniors include:
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The better seniors are able to move, the more weight they’ll be able to keep off their bones. Obesity is responsible for at least 18% of adult deaths in the United States.
Decreasing injury risks. Physical therapy utilizes extension exercises to help seniors learn how to maintain their stability and avoid a fall that can lead to a debilitating injury. Osteoporosis is a major concern that can also lead to injuries in seniors. Physical therapy helps seniors learn how to maintain their stability in relation to gravity and to keep their postures erect and strong through extension exercises.
Improve arthritis symptoms. Physical therapy can help alleviate discomfort from arthritis by using physical techniques and activity modifications, as well as exercises that can help offset future symptoms. Most people over the age of 65 have some arthritis in their spine, regardless of whether or not they experience any pain, so preventing pain in the future is key.
Reduce the risk for a fall or a future fall. A fall often leads to a senior needing physical therapy. Physical therapy can teach a senior the correct techniques to prevent a fall. This is vital because falls are actually the leading cause of accidents among seniors and most often — as much as one out of three times — can result in a bone fracture or other injury.
Avoid surgery and prescription drugs. Physical therapy has been proven to be a cost-effective treatment for the chronic lower back pain most seniors suffer; it works even better than most medications prescribed. Plus, physical therapy has also proven to be just as effective as surgery for issues like rotator cuff tears and spinal stenosis.
There are various forms of physical therapy for the elderly, such as cold therapy, which uses ice packs to relieve pain and swelling, or hot therapy, which relaxes muscles before exercise and improves blood circulation. There’s also hydrotherapy, which utilizes water to treat diseases, heal soft tissues, increase blood flow and relax the entire body. Sometimes, electrical stimulation is also used in physical therapy for seniors as a means of scrambling pain signals through electrical currents to mask the feeling of pain.
Working with a physical therapist can help seniors achieve their goals and give them a renewed sense of confidence in their daily lives. It can reduce their pain, improve strength and agility, and make daily tasks easier to manage.
Good Samaritan Center at Advent Christian Village specializes in individualized care from a highly-trained medical staff. Whether you need short-term rehabilitation or long-term skilled nursing care, we provide the services you need in a comfortable, home-like environment. Contact us to visit our beautiful senior living community or to request more information.