Physical therapy helps seniors age in place

How Physical Therapy Helps Seniors Live Independently at Home

It’s easy to assume that getting older naturally involves a loss of independence. As you lose a certain degree of mobility, you also lose the ability to safely live on your own, right?

Not necessarily. Physical therapy can help seniors maintain their independence for much longer than you may expect. Although physical therapy is absolutely useful when recovering from an injury, it can also simply help slow the natural processes of aging. In the words of PT, DPT, OCS Marla Ranieri, “Physical therapy is a vital part of the medical team during the aging process.” The following physical therapy facts and information illustrate how.

Preventing Falls

Falls represent the leading cause of injury among seniors in the United States. As a person gets older, they may struggle to maintain their balance. “Exercises that strengthen lower extremity and challenge balance are important to incorporate to reduce risks of falls,” says Ranieri.

Physical therapy helps by safely simulating what an elderly person would experience if they began to lose their balance. This allows patients to develop ways to stay on their feet before a fall occurs.

Managing Pain

Seniors with chronic pain often need daily help from caregivers. However, physical therapy can be very effective at reducing chronic pain. It can even take the place of medication in some circumstances. Thus, working with a physical therapist may replace daily care and monitoring.

Improving Cognitive Abilities

physical therapy helps seniors reduce painSome degree of cognitive decline is natural as a person ages. That said, evidence indicates that staying physically active can help to slow the progress of cognitive decline.

This is very important for seniors to know. Physical therapists can help design fitness programs that are ideal for their needs and abilities, letting them remain active (and reap the cognitive rewards) for years.

Adjusting the Living Environment

Physical therapists are often particularly well-qualified to identify potential risk factors in a senior’s home. They can make adjustments to their living environment to reduce the risk of injury. If a senior’s mobility is declining, the physical therapist can also recommend changes that will make performing certain daily tasks much easier.

Boosting Recovery Speed

If a senior does experience an injury, they’ll likely need some degree of supervision during the recovery period. This naturally limits their independence. However, a physical therapist will help them recover more quickly than they otherwise might, allowing them to return to an independent lifestyle in a shorter period of time.

Promoting an Active Lifestyle

Seniors are more active after physical therapy Studies indicate that maintaining an active social life is key to slowing the progression of cognitive decline in seniors. Physical therapy can help in this regard by allowing elderly people to stay fit enough to engage in social activities more confidently. As a result, they’ll be less likely to develop the cognitive issues that might otherwise prevent them from living independently.

Remember, you don’t need to be recovering from an injury to benefit from physical therapy. Contacting a physical therapist early allows a senior to adjust to the natural aging process before it has a negative impact on their independence. These examples illustrate just some of the ways taking this step helps.

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