Living a healthy lifestyle is a great way for older adults to stay active, engaged and healthy far into their golden years. However, there are some truths about aging that occur, no matter how great of shape a person is in! With advanced years, we may misplace our keys more often, our taste in food may change, we may need to upgrade our prescription for eyeglasses and we tend to lose strength and flexibility in our bodies.
These changes can come due to a chronic condition, a long illness, an injury, following a surgery or simply as a part of natural aging. However, it is crucial to address the risks to balance, the increased risk of injury and the potential loss of independence that comes with loss of strength and flexibility. No matter the reason for the changes, taking part in physical therapy can play an important role in restoring independence and functionality. So, what is physical therapy? What does physical therapy do? And what happens in physical therapy?
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is a health treatment that can help older adults to retain independence and improve both general health and mobility. The goal of this type of therapy is to help to improve and restore functionality, either following an illness, injury or surgery, or simply due to changes that come with natural aging. Additional goals of physical therapy are to improve balance and strength, while also reducing pain and increasing mobility.
Senior physical therapy is specifically tailored for older adults and their unique needs and challenges. Senior physical therapy takes into consideration the decreased muscle strength, loss of coordination and lower tolerance for physical activity experienced by older adults. The broad focuses of senior physical therapy are:
- Maintaining an active lifestyle
- Preventing muscle atrophy
- Decreasing the risk of falls and injuries from falls
- Maintaining independence in daily activities
At rehabilitation communities, like Mattoon Rehabilitation & Health Care Center, many residents are participating in physical therapy as part of their recovery and rehabilitation following a major health event. In these cases, it is important to focus on the total wellness and recovery of the resident. Mattoon offers psychiatry, neurology, nephrology, physiatry, gerontology, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy to help residents restore their health and achieve best possible outcomes for recovery.
At rehabilitation communities like Stratford Commons Rehabilitation & Health Care Center, physical therapy programs are designed to address the specific needs of each individual. For example, a resident in stroke recovery will follow a different program than a resident who is recovering from knee surgery. However, here are some common physical therapy (PT) exercises many seniors are encouraged to perform at Stratford’s state-of-the-art fitness facility:
- Lower body stretches to promote joint alignment and good mobility, while preventing stiff joints from interfering with movement.
- Endurance training for a strong heart and healthy lungs.
- Balance exercises to help maintain stability, reduce fall risks and help with change of direction movements.
- Lower body strengthening exercises for the glutes and quads, such as squats and step-ups, to maintain strength.
At Mattoon, Stratford Commons and all top-tier rehabilitation communities, all exercises are performed in a fall-safe environment with trained therapists.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Following a physical therapy program is a process, and seeing the benefits of physical therapy may take time. From relearning how to sit up in bed to regaining some of the activities of daily living, each senior’s physical therapy journey will be unique, following their own timeline and achieving their own results. However, the benefits of physical therapy align with the general goals and can be seen throughout the journey:
Physical therapy helps seniors move around more easily. This improves both quality of life and independence in performing daily tasks and pursuing favorite activities.
Reduced risk of falls.
Falls are more likely to happen as we age, and injuries from falls are a major health risk for seniors.
Faster recovery from illness or injury.
Following a surgery, major health event, such as a stroke or heart attack, or after a long illness, many seniors begin a rehabilitation program that includes physical therapy. In addition to reducing recovery time, physical therapy can help improve overall health outcomes.
Control symptoms of some health conditions.
From chronic fatigue to carpal tunnel or vertigo, there are a variety of conditions that can be improved through a physical therapy program that allow the senior to regain control over their muscles.
About Tutera Senior Living & Health Care
In addition to rehabilitation and extended stay services, Tutera Senior Living & Health Care communities offer independent living, assisted living, memory care, Thrive memory care and respite stay. At every age and every stage, Tutera is here to support you and your family on your aging journey. From exceptional health care to nutritious and delicious dining and programs to keep you healthy and happy, Tutera is ready to make your golden years your best years yet!