Better Senior Living With Physical Therapy

October 24, 2014

Is your beloved senior looking for a way to reduce chronic pain, improve mobility or stay fit and active? You may want to encourage your loved one to investigate the transformative benefits of physical therapy. And since October is National Physical Therapy Month, now is a great time to do so.

An Overview of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can involve a number of different techniques. Manual physical therapy provides patients with massage and manipulation of limbs to stretch, extend, relax and relieve pain. For swelling and inflammation, physical therapists may use cold therapy, while heat therapy is recommended for muscle relaxation and improved circulation.

The use of water in physical therapy is called hydrotherapy, and it may involve exercise in a warm-water pool. It provides a great deal of relaxation as well as better circulation, and it’s a great way to speed the healing of soft tissues. Finally, there’s electrical stimulation therapy, which is especially useful for pain management and for creating movement in muscles impaired by arthritis or stroke.

How Physical Therapy Helps Seniors

Most seniors discover the benefits of physical therapy after an accident, injury or long-term illness. And while it’s true that physical therapy is a great way to recover muscle tone, range of movement and mobility for seniors already receiving medical care for injuries or illness, there are many more ways elderly folks are helped by regular physical therapy, including these:

  • Chronic pain: The ugly cycle of pain, immobility, weakness and more pain can be broken with targeted physical therapy. With the help of a skilled physical therapist, seniors can learn to move safely and with a minimum of pain. Physical therapy is used to alleviate the pain and weakness caused by arthritis, aching joints and even radical cancer treatments like mastectomy.
  • Incontinence: Physical therapists are able to help elders to identify and exercise the muscles of the pelvic floor. These exercises, along with the establishment of regular, scheduled toileting habits, greatly reduce incidents of this embarrassing problem.
  • Osteoporosis:  As our loved ones age, their bones become less dense and more fragile, leaving them vulnerable to serious injury. A good physical therapy program will reduce the dangers of osteoporosis with customized exercises that teach seniors better posture, build stronger bones and improve balance.
  • Parkinson’s Disease:  One of the most exciting developments in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease is the discovery that regular physical therapy early in the progression of this debilitating disease can actually prevent the most severe symptoms of late-stage Parkinson’s.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease:  Recent research shows that regular physical activity can improve memory and slow the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. Physical therapy also helps Alzheimer’s patients maintain their strength and mobility, reducing the dangers of falls and keeping them safe and functional.

Your loved one’s doctor may not have considered the benefits of physical therapy as part of an ongoing wellness program. But physical therapy can help seniors to move safely, with more freedom and less pain — and that means a better, happier life for the ones you love most! Celebrate National Physical Therapy Month by asking your family physician about the possibility of physical therapy for your favorite senior.

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