Physical Therapy for SeniorsGeriatric Physical Therapy or Physical Therapy for Seniors, is a form of treatment that generally focuses on older adults, aged approximately between 65 to 90. If you or someone you know, are within this age range and believe that you need physical therapy, read on to know more.

What Can Geriatric Physical Therapy Treat?

As stated earlier, Geriatric Physical Therapy is elderly physical therapy. However, it can also be used to treat any age-related condition that adults experience. The term Geriatric Physical Therapy is also an umbrella term used to describe treatment for a broad range of medical conditions that people tend to face as they grow older. Some common ailments that can be addressed using geriatric physical therapy are:

1) Arthritis

Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of your joints. The most common signs and symptoms of arthritis are pain in the affected area, usually accompanied by swelling, stiffness, redness, and decreased range of motion.

The causes of arthritis are 1) wear-and-tear damage to your joint’s cartilage (osteoarthritis), and 2) your body’s immune system attacks the lining of your joint capsule and it becomes inflamed and swollen (rheumatoid arthritis).

2) Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition affecting the bones. This is a Latin term, meaning “porous bone.” There are small spaces inside your bones that look like a honeycomb. When you have osteoporosis, these spaces increase in size and this causes your bones to lose density and strength (bone loss).

During the early stages of bone loss, there are typically no symptoms. However, when your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may have symptoms such as 1) a stooped posture; 2) loss of height over time; 3) back pain, caused by a collapsed or fractured vertebra; or 4) a bone that breaks much more easily than expected.

3) Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive neurologic disorder that slowly destroys your thinking skills, memory, and eventually your ability to perform simple day-to-day tasks. It is the most common type of dementia, according to experts, accounting for around 60 to 80% of cases of dementia in the U.S.

The exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease are still not fully understood. However, experts say that, at a basic level, brain proteins fail to function normally. When this happens, the work of the neurons (brain cells) is disrupted and this triggers a series of toxic events. The neurons become damaged, lose connections to each other, and eventually, they die. Some scientists, on the other hand, believe that for most people, it is a combination of a person’s genetics, lifestyle, and some environmental factors that affect the human brain over time.

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease are divided into three stages: 

a) Early symptoms

Memory lapses – forgetting about recent conversations or events; misplacing items; forgetting names of places and objects; asking questions repeatedly; having a harder time to make decisions; having trouble thinking of the right word; becoming less flexible and more hesitant to try new things; getting increasingly anxious or agitates; having periods of confusion.

b) Middle-stage symptoms

Memory problems get worse – increasing periods of confusion and disorientation (e.g., getting lost, not knowing what time of day it is); becoming obsessive, repetitive, or impulsive; feeling paranoid and suspicious about family members or carers, or having delusions; having problems with speech or language; sleep problems; depression, frequent mood swings, feeling increasingly frustrated, anxious, or agitated; hallucinations. At this stage, the patient usually needs support with everyday living.

c) Later symptoms

Symptoms have become increasingly severe and can be distressing for the person who suffers from the condition, as well as his or her carers and/or members of the family. In addition to the symptoms enumerated earlier, other symptoms may develop, such as having difficulty eating and swallowing; having difficulty in changing position or moving around without assistance; weight loss (in some cases, severe); urinary and/or bowel incontinence; gradual loss of speech.

4) Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the leaking of urine that you cannot control. Similarly, bowel incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements which results in involuntary soiling. Typical causes of urinary incontinence are: weak bladder muscles, overactive bladder muscles, weak pelvic floor muscles, damage to nerves controlling the bladder from diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, enlarged prostate for men. Some causes of bowel incontinence, on the other hand, are nerve damage; problems with the sphincter muscles; constipation; diarrhea; irritable bowel syndrome; Chron’s disease; hemorrhoids. 

5) Neurological disorders

Neurological disorders are disorders that affect the brain and the nerves throughout your body and your spinal cord. Some examples of neurological disorders are acute spinal cord injury, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Ataxia, Bell’s Palsy, cerebral aneurysm, epilepsy and seizures, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, head injury, hydrocephalus, lumbar disk disease (herniated disk), meningitis, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, neurocutaneous syndromes, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, cluster headaches, tension headaches, migraine headaches, etc.

6) Balance and gait disorders

These are usually caused by arthritis and orthostatic hypotension. Other causes are injury and trauma. The symptoms are difficulty in walking, trouble with balance, and unsteadiness. Sometimes, you feel lightheadedness, dizziness, vertigo, motion sickness, and double vision.

7) Joint replacement

8) Cancer

What are the Benefits of Elderly Physical Therapy?

Generally, when we start to age, we also begin to have unique health care requirements. Our bodies begin to age, we start to lose strength, muscle mass, and bone density. Reflexes are not as fast and sometimes we fall.

Geriatric physical therapy has been proven to help older adults restore and improve functionality, reduce pain, and increase mobility to improve their quality of life.

Physical Therapy for Seniors is important because:

  1. It helps reduce the risk of a fall.
  2. It lowers the risk of an injury.
  3. It helps reduce pain from chronic conditions.
  4. It reduces the need for prescription drugs.
  5. It helps them maintain an independent lifestyle.

What Happens During Physical Therapy for Seniors?

1) Education

Patients are taught how to perform daily tasks safely. Physical therapists teach patients how to use assistive devices and how to protect themselves from further injury.

2) Manual Therapy

Manual therapy can include manipulation and/or massage of the patient’s joints and muscles to improve the patient’s circulation and to reduce pain.

3) Exercise

Dynamic balance exercises for the elderly are meant to increase the patient’s mobility and reduce the chance of injury through falling. These fun balance exercises for the elderly include activities such as walking, stretching, weight lifting, aquatic therapy, and weight lifting.

We offer Geriatric Vigor Physical Therapy here at Vigor Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation.

We provide superior care and excellent patient-centered service from a therapist-owned practice dedicated to your complete healing and wellness.

If you want to know more about Geriatric Physical Therapy or other services that we offer, contact us today and we will happily answer your queries.