PT for Independent Senior Living
February is National Senior Independence month. It’s no surprise a month is dedicated to aging in place: 88% of adults aged 50-80 feel it’s important to live in their homes as long as possible. To remain at home and live independently, mobility and physical activity are critical. Physical therapy (PT) can help address and improve both these factors.
Mobility & Physical Activity
Mobility is the ability to move or walk about freely and easily. Good mobility ensures healthy aging by allowing individuals to participate fully in social, physical, and cultural activities. It means a person can go visit their loved ones, clean and cook in their own home, and participate in community gatherings. Chronic illnesses, diseases, and impairments (like vision or hearing loss) can negatively impact a person’s freedom of movement. Mobility changes may alter gait, balance, and strength and lead to more severe falls.
Physical activity includes all movement a person does, from leisure activities to structured exercise. An active lifestyle can prevent or delay health issues, ensure strength needed to accomplish daily activities, and maintain bone density. Regular exercise has been shown to lower risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. Not getting physical activity will decrease mobility – and make independent senior living less likely.
How PT Helps Independent Aging
There’s a common misconception that PT can only occur after an injury. As experts in movement, physical therapists can help with preventative strategies to address the complexities of aging. Not only are they trained to evaluate current fitness, but physical therapists can also prescribe exercises and monitor progress. After considering flexibility, strength, endurance, posture, and balance, a physical therapist can assess risk by comparing results to known measures related to falls, disability, and mortality.
Some key ways PT can aid independent senior living include:
- Building strength with safe activities and proper form to slow down muscle deterioration that comes with age
- Increasing flexibility for better mobility in everyday activities
- Managing chronic pain without medicine so medical monitoring can be minimized
- Improving balance and coordination, reducing the likelihood and seriousness of falls
- Accelerating recovery after events, promoting a quicker return to healthy activities
There’s a famous quote which states “It’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.” Most people want to have a long life, full life at home. PT can help make lively independent senior living possible.
Sources: National Poll on Health Aging; JAMA; Journal of Preventative Medicine & Public Health; CDC; NIA; NCOA