Many seniors experience balance and mobility issues as they age. Often times, these changes in your senior loved one’s body are due to a lack of physical activity combined with the body’s muscles and joints weakening due to age. Physical therapy is a great way to improve muscle flexibility and strength, but did you know that it has other health benefits as well? Below are five benefits that your senior loved one can gain from sessions with a licensed physical therapist.
1. Prevent Falls and Injuries
Each year, 3 million seniors are treated in an emergency facility due to falls and the injuries resulting from those falls. Over 800,000 of those treated are hospitalized due to those injuries. A physical therapist can create an easy exercise program for your senior loved one and their specific medical situation. Improved balance, endurance, stamina, and mobility all come with a regular physical therapy routine, helping to prevent falls and injuries.
2. Avoid Surgery
One of the most common reasons seniors may need surgery is due to injuries from falls. As previously mentioned, physical therapy can help your senior loved one gain better balance and mobility which helps to prevent falls. Physical therapy can also help your senior loved one avoid certain illnesses and infections which could also result in a need for surgery.
3. Prevent Illnesses and Infections
A physical therapist helps strengthen muscles. Weakened muscles can cause inactivity, and inactivity can increase risk for certain infections like pneumonia, skin problems, and ulcers. Obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, blood clots, and stroke have also been linked to inactivity. All of these health issues can increase your risk for chronic illnesses and injuries. The longer your senior loved one stays inactive, the more likely they may be to develop infections. Studies have found the regular physical therapy and exercise may help to prevent certain cancers and diseases like diabetes.
4. Recover from Hospital Stays
Physical therapy is an important part of preventing injuries, but it also plays a role in recovering from an injury as well. Whether your senior loved one was hospitalized for an injury or something more serious, like stroke, making an appointment with a physical therapist can help them recover faster and stay well longer afterward. After a hospital stay, your senior loved one may have weakened muscles and be even more prone to falling than before, especially if they experienced a stroke. With a routine geared specifically toward your senior loved one, a physical therapist can help them recover much of, if not all of, the mobility they had prior to being hospitalized.
5. Reduce Pain
Often times as we age, our bodies ache in places that they didn’t when we were younger. Whether your senior loved one’s pain is due to inactivity or because of a chronic illness, physical therapy can help to alleviate their pain. Physical therapy exercises can help seniors who have pain from chronic illnesses like arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia. A licensed physical therapist can show your senior loved one exercises to help with pain due to joint stiffness and swelling. Always consult your senior loved one’s primary care physician before they start any new exercise routine.