Physiotherapists have a broad scope of practice, and within that scope is providing care to the aged population. An aged care physiotherapist, in particular, interacts with the senior population in several settings, including within aged care facilities, emergency care settings, community group therapy, private practice, home care, and inpatient and outpatient hospital care. Physiotherapy can be foundational to the well-being of this demographic in several ways. Here are a few ways that physiotherapy for senior citizens can help the elderly population:
Improve functional capacity, musculoskeletal health, and general conditioning.
The ageing population must maintain physical activity to facilitate good health, independence, and mental well-being. As we age, it can be challenging to engage in independent physical activity as there may be many barriers to participation. Pain, mobility concerns, community access, health concerns and fear can limit the aged population from participating in activities that are beneficial to musculoskeletal conditioning, fitness, general health, and functional capacity. This is where physiotherapy for the elderly comes in.
Physiotherapists can work with the elderly population to assess functional capacity and fitness parameters to design a tailored exercise program that is achievable, enjoyable and goal-oriented. Exercise can be a great way to treat pain and restriction, improve independence and prevent adverse events associated with a decline in physical capacity.
Physiotherapy for aged care incorporates exercises that can occur in a group setting, which is great for social engagement within the home. It can help with ease of access within a variety of clinical settings, including the pool, to accommodate varying capacity levels.
As previously discussed, regular exercise is vital for functional capacity, strength, and conditioning. Of the utmost concern to the ageing population, is falls prevention. As well as working with elderly patients to improve strength, cardiovascular endurance and general fitness, an aged care physiotherapist can assist with targeted interventions to address balance and mobility to reduce the incidence of falls.
Purposeful, supervised exercise within the home, clinical setting, or pool can help to improve functional parameters that contribute to balance. In addition, education can help the elderly make decisions in high-risk environments and falls education can assist elderly individuals in avoiding or recovering from an incident of a fall.
The ageing population commonly experiences persistent pain, which can be a barrier to activities of daily living and community participation. Persistent pain can bring about a substantial psychological burden, disturb sleep, and reduce the quality of life. Physiotherapists can work with the elderly to develop strategies for managing pain, provide short-term relief of aches and pains through various modalities, and educate patients about pain to reduce their interference with daily living.
The aged population are often candidates for orthopaedic surgery, both elective surgery such as hip joint and knee joint replacements, preventative care such as coronary artery bypass surgery, and emergency care such as cardiac surgery and fracture management.
Physiotherapists are integral to post-operative care by assisting with restoring mobility, the function of the injured area and cardiorespiratory health after anaesthetic. Physiotherapists will be a part of your management team in acute, inpatient, and outpatient settings.
Older people can also sustain injuries that do not require hospitalisation but a short stint of independent physiotherapy to restore function and capacity and overcome associated pain, just like everyone else!
These are the most common ways an aged care physiotherapist can provide care to the aged population. Depending on the environment in which physiotherapy for old age is provided, treatment will serve a purpose that aligns with patient goals and capacity. If you are interested in how physiotherapy may benefit you or a family member, contact our team today and have your loved one go through an aged care physiotherapy assessment.
Blog by Brittany Romas – Physiotherapist , PhysioChoice Frankston Victoria.
Link to her online bio: https://www.physiochoice.com.au/practice/frankston
Brittany holds a Bachelor of Applied Science and Masters of Physiotherapy from La Trobe University, and is currently studying her Masters of Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy at La Trobe University.
She is an avid powerlifter and has a strong interest in strength conditioning, acute sport injuries, and occupational related conditions.
Brittany has spent time in South East Asia working with paediatric patients with a large range of neurological disorders; she has developed a keen interest in providing disability support in conjunction with the NDIS.
Brittany believes in a holistic approach to her client’s rehabilitation and treatments including Hydrotherapy, Dry Needling and Clinical Pilates.