Staying Physically Active With Geriatric Physical Therapy

The world’s population is bursting at it seams, and this means an ever larger group of elderly people who will need medical attention and a range of different treatments to keep them as mobile as possible. The older generation no longer accepts the fact that growing older means losing mobility and having a host of aches and pains throughout the entire body. These days the older crowd are taking a vital interest in their health; they are getting out and becoming more involved in fitness activities and adventure, and when things go wrong they are quick to look for therapy to restore their health. Geriatric physical therapy aims to promote healthy, active aged people who get the most from life in the twilight years.

There is a growing demand for skilled geriatric nursing staff in a realm of different settings. And this type of nursing is going to see substantial growth in the near future. Physical therapy is part of rehabilitative health where  exercise and equipment are used which are specifically designed to help people to regain their physical abilities. People might need to pursue physical therapy anytime they experience a problem while moving  and which  prevents them from performing the activities of daily living.

Implementing The Best Health Care

Geriatric Physical TherapyThe aged need to be treated in ways that are going to be of benefit, and which do no harm or as little harm as possible. Functional, psychological and social issues are assessed to assist with planning and implementing the best individual health care.

Geriatric physical therapy is a medical specialty, covering a range of concerns regarding people as they age. Some of the conditions treated with this kind of physical therapy are cancer, arthritis, alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis and joint replacement, amongst others. The idea behind the therapy is to restore mobility, but also to reduce pain. It can be a wonderful relief for older patients to have their strength and mobility restored, and this instantly gives them back their confidence.

Falling – A Major Concern With The Elderly

Older people fall often, in nursing homes and at home. These falls often lead to hip fractures and a general deterioration of health. Thousands of old people fall and these falls often put them out of action and into hospital. Without physical therapy, many of them never return to their previous level of mobility. Physical therapy plays an important role in restoring strength and independence to the old person, and unlike outpatient facilities, one-on-one attention is often provided to the aged person in the comfort of their own home.

For instance, and elderly person’s balance may also deteriorate and with geriatric physical therapy, a regular activity program will help to restore and maintain balance. The physical therapist always starts slowly, making sure that the old person is not involved in anything that will make them feel unsteady, and as their balance improves, new activities are introduced.

There Are Different Kinds Of Geriatric Physical Therapy

Education is a very important part of geriatric physical therapy and those involved with the physical therapy program are taught to perform all their daily tasks in a safe way, as well as how to make use of their assistive devices in the correct way.  Exercise is the physical activity that does not include the person’s daily tasks. The particular exercises that are specifically chosen are geared towards  restoring and maintaining a person’s co-ordination, flexibility and strength.

The exercises are carefully thought out so that they can reduce the chance of further injury through falling.  The type of exercises include things like weight lifting, aquatic therapy, walking, stretching as well as general exercises that are designed and tailored around the person’s particular injury.
Manual  therapy is very useful because it works to improve blood circulation and to restore flexibility and mobility. The therapy also reduces pain.

Learning How To Become Mobile With Orthotics

Geriatric physical therapy is all about helping the elderly person. Many of these old people have to learn all over how to achieve movement with orthotics or prostheses. Balance training,  artificial limb fitting and training, and motor control training are all part of physical therapy. The physical therapy also assists with bed mobility and transfer; getting in and out of bed as well as in and out of a wheelchair. When it comes to getting in and out of beds and wheelchairs, weight also comes in to play, and the physical therapists also help with weight management. A person’s body weight changes as they grow older and there is a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in fat mass. Keeping physically active will help to maintain a healthy body composition.

What Kind Of Therapist Perform The Physical Therapy?

The physical therapists love their work and work one-on-one with their patients. They first evaluate their patients because they want to get an idea of what they can actually do. They then create a geriatric physical therapy program around the person’s particular problem. They often work with other health care providers, and together as a team, they perform their physical therapy so that it completely  benefits the person receiving it.

Some physical therapists are certified in areas of specializations, and  geriatric physical therapy is a major specialization. Once these physical therapists have become licensed, they can work in any number of settings, some of which are hospitals, clinics, sports clubs or nursing homes. They also learn different ways to treat people, but exercise always is one of the more important aspects of it. They also use manipulation as a form of therapy and ice, hot packs or ultrasound are some of the techniques they use to achieve success.

Of course, the physical therapists are well trained and will have graduated from an accredited college. They will have completed a bachelors, masters, or doctoral degree with specialty clinical experience in physical therapy. They will also have had to meet licensure requirements in the state they work and live in. The geriatric physical therapist is always ready to offer advice and to help the old person understand all the changes that will naturally occur with the aging process and how it is best to accept the changes in a peaceful and accepting way.

By making use of specially selected exercises and  educational information they improve the overall well-being of their patients and simply help them towards a better quality of life.

Regaining Functional Independence

Physical therapists work with people to help them meet the challenges they face related to an illness or injury. Their goal is to assist people to regain functional independence and return to a full life at home and in their community. Physical therapists work with the person’s doctor and other members of the person’s health care team to design a therapy program that focuses on meeting the person’s recovery goals.

Stretching Guidelines

Everyone can learn to stretch because it helps to create a balance or to prevent an imbalance between muscle that may subject to chronic tightness due to daily inactivity. Stretching is extremely beneficial and helps to increase circulation, decrease the incidence of muscle strains, reduce muscle tension, increase range of motion and co-ordinate easier movement.

Static stretching consists of slow, gradual and controlled movements, involving the sustained lengthening of the muscle and joint for about 40 seconds. The muscle is stretched to a point of tension, but not pain. It is popular because it is the least likely stretching exercise to cause injury.

Examples Of Stretching Exercises

An example of stretches for the back is to stand upright with your arms straight above your head. Grasp your fingers with the palms facing upwards. Reach up as far as possible. This exercise stretches the trunk, shoulders and arms. A stretching exercise for the chest will be to place your hands behind you, interlock your fingers and straighten your arms. Try and lift your arms upwards and backwards as far as possible.

  • increased strength and endurance leads to more flexibility and less falls and injuries
  • the exercises result in less stress and more energy
  • the exercises lead to a better night’s sleep
  • patients have a sense of accomplishment and this improves their self confidence

There are a number of conditions that are more common among the older generation and these conditions can be effectively treated through geriatric physical therapy.  Some of these ailments are:

  • dementia
  • pressure ulcers
  • muscular dystrophy
  • long term breathing problems
  • arthritis
  • cancer
  • balance disorders
  • incontinence
  • cardiac and pulmonary diseases
  • stroke
  • parkinson’s disease
  • joint replacements
  • hip fractures

Pressure Ulcers Due To Lack Of Movement

Pressure sores, also known as bedsores are localized injuries to the skin and tissue and when they ae left untreated, they can be life threatening, particularly in the elderly. The pressure ulcer develops because of the person’s lack of movement and the fact that the old person’s skin has become a lot thinner, making them more susceptible to skin damage. The elderly who sit for long periods of time in a wheelchair for instance, those who have a chronic condition,  those who are malnourished and those who have incontinence are more prone to these pressure ulcers.  They can be prevented, but they can  occur even with excellent nursing care.

Geriatric physical therapists tailor a plan of care for their elderly patients suffering from pressure injury. Their focus is on wound healing and comfort for the patient  is also a top priority.

Cardiovascular Disease

This is a disease that affects the heart as well as the blood vessels. Blood pressure tends to increase with age as blood vessels lose their elasticity and artherosclerosis may narrow th diameter of the blood vessels. Cardiovascular disease is common in 50% of the population over the age of 65, and accounts for 40% of deaths in this group. Regular exercise will help to maintain a healthy blood pressure and it will also reduce hardening of the arteries.


This common condition is a result of a decrease in bone mineral density and places elderly people at risk for increased bone fractures, especially of the hop. With geriatric physical therapy, the therapist plans regular physical activity for the old person, especially weight bearing exercises as this helps to maintain bone mineral density. There are other exercises such as walking where the body bears its own weight, compared to non-weight bearing exercises such as swimming where body weight is supported by the water. Low impact activities are the safest, especially for those people with arthritis or orthopaedic conditions.

As with all exercises for the elderly, the geriatric physical therapist looks out for warning signs during exercise programs, looking out for  severe shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing, dizziness, excessive perspiration, cramps or nausea.

There are many benefits of physical therapy for the elderly, and it is a fantastic way for creating safety for the future because it helps strengthen and improve balance.


Approaching age need not mean a time of fighting off aches and pains and spending a lot of time in hospital. Geriatric physical therapy is an excellent way for elderly people to improve balance and strength and stay flexible and active well into the 80’s and 90’s. There are a host of advantages to physical therapy and any seniors can benefit from it. Physical therapy is excellent for improving strength, balance and fitness and avoiding those falls that could spell the start of troubles for the future.
Falling is a huge risk facing the elderly, leading to hip fractures which mean a general deterioration in health. Thousands of old people end up in hospital with hip fractures.

Everyone can benefit from physical therapy, but for the elderly it can be seen as a godsend, covering all the main muscle groups in the body and bringing flexibility to the body. Regular exercise is required to increase and maintain flexibility, and your age, gender and the types of activity that the physical therapists works out for you will all play a role in achieving and maintaining a full and normal range of motion for you.

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