Would you believe if there was a non-drug treatment for the elderly that works for injuries and conditions such as arthritis, joint pain, Parkinson’s, and incontinence all while improving your strength and endurance?
There is one — physiotherapy. Physiotherapy is performed through movement, exercises, massages, manual therapy, and other methods, over medication and surgery. As an effective treatment for a plethora of conditions, physiotherapy can also help speed up the recovery time after surgery. In fact, physiotherapy exercises have been scientifically proven to be one of the most effective ways to cure pain and injuries.
Many people assume that physiotherapy is only for athletes recovering from injuries. In reality, physiotherapy is just as focused on restoring or maintaining movement and balance, decreasing or managing pain among the elderly. For example, seniors may face a range of issues, including arthritis, back and joint pain, muscle stiffness, ligament damage, inflammation, and lack of mobility. There are hundreds of issues related to ageing that can be prevented, treated, or managed by physiotherapy as part of a comprehensive wellness regime.
While physiotherapy cannot stop the ageing process, it can help to reduce the impact that it has on seniors and their lives. Let’s look at 5 benefits of physiotherapy for the elderly.
One vital component of a senior’s life is independence. Maintaining independence is key to a seniors’ quality of life, dignity, and happiness. Physiotherapy may be the solution to sustaining a completely independent lifestyle at home. Effective physiotherapy will be able to keep them less dependent on wheelchairs for mobility assistance. The longer individuals maintain a physically active lifestyle, the better they enjoy a healthy life of independence. Getting out to buy groceries, walking up and downstairs to the laundry, cleaning the house; these activities require physical movement that becomes challenging with age. In many cases, physiotherapy can help increase the capability to do these movements or maintain a senior’s current ability to prevent decline by ensuring a strong core and building muscle strength.
Mental health benefits
For seniors who may be dealing with physical pain, adjusting to retirement or changes in their lifestyle, maintaining their mental health is just as important as physical health. Physiotherapy exercises and stretches can alleviate anxiety and depression by releasing endorphins. Research indicates that the ability to maintain physical function also improves overall health by enhancing psychological and social well-being.
Pre and post-surgery recovery
Sometimes, surgeries are inevitable. Physiotherapy aids in the recovery of individuals after surgery, and can also help to build strength before surgery. Exercises of any kind protect and enhances cardiovascular capacity and circulation. Post-surgical physiotherapy will help patients recover their strength and mobility compared to when individuals do not go through physiotherapy.
Internal protection and strength
Physiotherapy can also help the elderly improve cardiovascular circulation by strengthening cardiac output and decreasing blood pressure. This, in turn, helps to protect them from developing cardiovascular diseases and minimises the threat of congestive heart failure. Diabetes can be another worrying problem for the ageing population. Exercising and regular stretching can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes, as it enhances the body’s ability to effectively produce and use insulin. It also helps to control blood sugar levels in those who already suffer from the condition.
Treatment of pain
There are many types of pain that can be relieved and reduced with professional physiotherapy for seniors. Neck and back pains, as well as many other types of pain, are often caused by poor circulation, stiffness, and insufficient physical activity. Because physiotherapy is safe and controlled, it can be the perfect way for seniors to increase their physical activity again and improve circulation. The result is often reduced pain as well as increased comfort and energy.
An important aspect to keep in mind about physiotherapy and pain relief is that each individual may respond differently to the therapy as people have different types of bodies, different patterns of movement, and different habits. Physiotherapists are able to create and prescribe different treatment plans, tailored to individuals based on their habits and movement patterns.
- Moseley, L. (2002). Combined physiotherapy and education is efficacious for chronic low back pain. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 48(4), 297-302. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0004-9514(14)60169-0