As people age, they experience changes and an overall decline to their physical strength, flexibility and mobility. Our bodies generally become stiffer, and we can develop problems balancing and walking. It can get hard to move and get around, which leads to a reduced quality of life and less independence.
Fortunately, aging adults can counteract these effects to a large extent through lifestyle changes, especially through exercise and stretching. Physical therapy (PT) can help by guiding a person on the best exercises to perform for their situation and by providing specialty equipment. What is the role of a physical therapist in helping seniors age well? Here are some of the top benefits of physical therapy for seniors.
1. Reducing Pain
Physical therapy for seniors offers a way to manage pain without drugs. It provides a number of interventions that can reduce the use of painkillers, yet it can also be used alongside them if needed. PT is associated with reducing pain of arthritis, fatigue and other problems seniors tend to face. Plus, it could help reduce pain from muscle stiffness by helping seniors have a more limber body.
2. Boosting Strength
Muscles weaken with age, but strength training within physical therapy can help to boost muscle mass and strength. This activity helps to counteract some of that natural weakening, which can reduce the risk of dangerous falls and other injuries. PT provides a safe way for seniors to carry out strength-training activities with proper tools and form.
3. Improving Flexibility and Range of Motion
How can stretching and exercising help keep seniors limber? Consistently moving limbs and stretching through senior yoga or other exercises helps the body move better and improves posture. With improved flexibility and range of motion, anyone can get around better and have improved success with activities of daily living.
4. Improving Health Conditions
As people age, they tend to develop various health conditions. The benefits of physical therapy extend to helping with many of these age-related health conditions. The activities a person does in PT, such as using ice and heat, stretching and taking advantage of aquatic therapies, can help relieve symptoms of arthritis, osteoporosis, incontinence and other conditions. A PT professional can customize sessions to fit each person's specific health conditions and goals.
5. Benefiting Coordination and Balance
Physical therapy is associated with improved coordination and balance, which become more difficult with age. Like improved strength and flexibility, these better physical fitness measures can help seniors be more active and independent in their daily lives. They can also help to prevent falls, which are a danger to aging adults.
6. Retraining and Healing After an Event
After an injury, stroke or illness, physical therapy can help a senior recover and get as close to their previous state as possible. They can use PT to retrain in everyday tasks if they have lost the capacity due to a stroke or another health issue. In some cases, seniors get into a better physical state than they were in before a health event, as physical therapy can improve their mobility, strength and overall fitness level. Improving these measures through PT helps a person who was fairly sedentary before move and feel better than they had in a long time.
7. Helping Independence and Quality of Life
When an aging person can move better and do more on their own, they improve their quality of life and can remain independent. Since it helps people toward this goal, this is one of the main reasons why physical therapy is important. Aging adults often have the goal of staying in their homes, so physical therapy can help toward this goal. Nonetheless, it also improves a person's independence if they reside in senior living. By improving their fitness levels, aging adults can move better no matter where they live.
What Physical Therapy Is Recommended for Seniors?
Elderly physical therapy often focuses on reducing symptoms of age-related health conditions or recovering from an event like a fall or a stroke. Nonetheless, PT is valuable for any senior, regardless of their health situation. As age results in the natural decline of the body's strength, flexibility, balance and other measures of fitness, PT can help counteract these effects. Physical therapy exercises for seniors tend to focus on these areas and may include stretching, strength training, hot and cold therapy, aquatic exercises and other activities. Nonetheless, the goal of physical therapy will be customized to each person and their individual health situation and goals.
What Physical Therapy Options Does Daystar Offer?
When a resident gets a referral from their doctor for physical therapy, they can visit the Daystar office to set up physical therapy goals to meet their specific needs. We provide expert independent physical therapy vendors through our onsite clinics, and these physical therapy services are generally covered by Medicare or health insurance. At Daystar, we also offer exercise and stretching programs as part of our activity calendar, so residents have the option to participate in these to further improve their flexibility and mobility. Contact us to learn more about how Daystar could help your family.