The Benefits of Physical Therapy For Seniors


senior fitness

Did you know that one in four Americans currently age 65 will live to be at least 90 years old? It’s vital that aging seniors stay active to maintain their health and mobility to be able to enjoy life to the fullest extent. However, as people age, losing strength, flexibility and balance becomes a common problem. This can make maintaining a healthy level of fitness a challenge.

The goal of physical therapy for all ages is to help restore a person’s functionality, reduce pain, and increase mobility. Since as we age our mobility can become limited, physical therapy for seniors can help them retain their independence by improving their overall health and mobility, as well as help manage a long-term illness or chronic pain from arthritis.

Senior physical therapy can prevent common diseases

Osteoporosis, which is a disease of the bones that makes them brittle and weak, is a common issue among Americans. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 54 million Americans are affected by the disease, and it plays a major role in many falls and bone injuries. Falls are the leading cause of accidents among seniors and in one out of three instances, a fall will result in a fracture or other injury. While some of these accidents could be prevented by starting a regular exercise routine to help combat the risk factors for a fall, falls are one of the main issues that will bring a senior in to see a physical therapist.

Physical therapy can also help offset future symptoms of arthritis. Most people age 65 or older have some arthritis in their spine, even if they currently aren’t showing any actual symptoms. While strength training and exercise can also help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, seniors with arthritis can benefit from physical therapy because it provides exercises to help preserve the strength and use of the joints. They can also learn therapeutic methods to relieve discomfort through both physical techniques and activity modifications.

Types of senior physical therapy

Some of the different types of elderly physical therapy include:

  • Cold Therapy – treatments using ice packs to relieve pain and swelling
  • Heat Therapy – improves blood circulation and relaxes muscles before exercise
  • Manual Therapy – the physical therapist will use their own hands to relax the patient, reduce pain and improve flexibility through massage or mobilization, which uses slow movements to twist and pull joints or bones and manipulation, which are fast, forceful movements to realign joints or bones
  • Hydrotherapy – using water to help relax the entire body as well as treat diseases, heal soft tissues and increase blood flow
  • Electrical Stimulation – the use of electrical current to create a desired effect on the body, like scrambling pain signals to cover the feeling of pain

The benefits of physical therapy for seniors are numerous and can include not only gaining strength and balance, but also a renewed sense of confidence. It can give seniors back their independence and make daily tasks easier. Working with a physical therapist will not only reduce pain, but will provide options to enable a senior to develop their overall strength and ability, which helps reduce their risk for injuries and maintain a higher quality of life.

Lourdes Noreen McKeen is an active retirement community in Florida that offers a wide range of amenities including spiritual care, quality medical care, wellness programs, and daily activities.

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