by Dr. Michael Baranov, PT, October 23, 2015
Attention has turned to our graying population since the baby boomers started turning 65 years old in 2011; now one in every seven Americans are in their golden years. The good news is that people are living longer and data suggests you can expect to live another 19 years once you make it to age 65. The bad news is that chronic illness, aches and pains will lessen the quality of life and persist if not treated. A recent WebMD report gives several ways how physical therapy-not drugs!, can help seniors live better and longer.
Seniors Will Lose 1/2 Their Strength
As we age, our bodies change…and it’s not always for the better. Consider this study:
A majority of American adults expect to be living independently at age 80, and yet roughly half expect to lose strength and flexibility with age, according to a survey conducted by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).
Those seemingly contradictory beliefs, and other findings from a consumer survey of more than 1,000 adults commissioned by APTA suggest that Americans have a lot to learn about healthy aging.
Americans are conflicted on aging
Survey respondents seemed to be resigned to physical decline (51 percent expect to lose strength and 49 percent expect to lose flexibility as they age despite optimism about their future mobility and independence (68 percent expect they will still be able to engage in the same type of physical activities at 65 and older, and 59 percent expect to be living independently at home at age 80).
Americans are also conflicted about when the effects of aging begin, with younger respondents expecting to see signs begin when people reach their 40s and 50s, while 53 percent of all respondents believe people start to notice signs of aging in their 60s or older.
Aging effects can be slowed
Experiencing some effects of aging is inevitable, but physical therapists want people to know that many of the symptoms and conditions associated with aging are not always a matter of bad luck, and improvements can be made even at an advanced age.
Fact is, as we get older, we start to break down. As mentioned above, it can be delayed. But, if you run into problems, physical rehabilitation for Fresh Meadows residents is near by.
Conditions that respond well to physical therapy intervention:
- Stroke recovery can seem overwhelming, yet physical therapy retrains the brain to use skills lost through damage from a stroke. Teaching the hands and arms to make purposeful movements while constraining the use of the good limbs is the goal to strengthening the weak side. Over time physical therapy can help a stroke victim regain functionality to participate in daily activities.
- Parkinson’s is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the brain and causes difficulty in accomplishing everyday tasks like showering, walking and getting dressed. A physical therapy treatment plan can be developed to increase strength and flexibility and to accomplish tasks more efficiently and aid in fall prevention.
- Arthritis pain which will effect most seniors eventually can be alleviated with proper body posture and movement when performing daily tasks. Gaining strength around the joint is important to help relieve pain and improve function. Physical therapy also engages orthotics, thermal treatment, weight loss plans and assistive devices like shower stools, canes and walkers.
- Incontinence, that pesky sidekick of aging, can be helped by locating and strengthening certain muscles to gain better bladder control. Research has shown that pelvic floor muscles training and bladder training can significantly resolve urinary incontinence. Additionally, physical therapists can help patients recognize patterns, such as how soon after drinking liquids they will need to go to the bathroom.
Our skilled and licensed physical therapy specialists in Fresh Meadows can help senior adults live a longer and better life by regaining control over diminishing physical abilities. Contact us for more information and we will be happy to discuss our services with you.