Introducing Home Care: Physiotherapy for The Elderly
Growing old is a natural part of life and the aging process is inevitable. Our body functions change as we age. No matter how big or small these changes might be, it is undeniable that one’s physical health will decline with time. Aging can bring about unique health issues, including musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and neurological. As one ages, an overlap of these three categories may happen, leading to co-morbidities (coexistence of multiple health ailments).
It is important to understand the challenges faced by people as they age, and recognise that there are preventative measures that can place yourself (or a loved one) on a path of healthy ageing, aiming at improving one’s functional abilities and preventing further decline in physical performance. Whilst in-patient rehabilitation presents the best-validated opportunities, it may not be readily available to many. For those who have difficulties seeking out guided rehabilitation, home care physiotherapy can be a great alternative to consider. If you are looking to learn more about geriatric physiotherapy and how it can help, read on.
Geriatric Physiotherapy: What It Entails
Physiotherapy focuses on aiding one to restore functional independence when possible alongside psychosocial adjustment to ease the recovery path. Geriatric physiotherapy, in particular, is specifically tailored to the needs of elderlies with the complications that come with the ageing process.
For older adults, being able to perform their physical tasks in daily life are essential starting points for treatments. It is important to note that geriatric physiotherapy does not aim to ensure outstanding bodily function, as this is not the priority. Instead, it serves to promote independence in activities of daily living whilst maintaining functional status. Treatment often includes the assessment of one’s functional impairments and general mobility, alongside exercises, education, and behavioural interventions to assist with restoring mobility, strength, balance and pain alleviation.
Ultimately, physical therapy is the most effective measure as you have a trained professional to guide the elderly patient. The value that a trained physiotherapist provides is incomparable to that of a non-trained caregiver. Aside from experience and knowledge, the former offers specific cueing and supervision of appropriate exercises. It will be a plus point to involve the caregivers in the process of rehabilitation at home as they can assist with the exercises while your physiotherapist is not around. For those who do not have the means to engage with geriatric physiotherapy services in a clinical setting, one can opt to integrate simple, basic physical therapy exercises in the convenience and comfort of their own homes instead. That said, do note that the results may be limited when compared in a clinical setting
Strengthening of Muscles
During ageing, the body gradually loses the ability to balance, attributed from catabolism and muscle loss. Sarcopenia is a syndrome characterised by progressive and generalised loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength, one that offers a risk of adverse outcomes such as physical disability and poor quality of life. Unfortunately, since it is specifically related to ageing, this condition is highly pervasive among the elderly.
The progress of gradual muscle loss and decrease in strength are inevitable. However, it can be slowed down by way of resistance training. Current research has shown that countering muscle disuse through resistance training is a powerful intervention to tackle the loss of muscle strength and mass, physiological vulnerability and their debilitating effects. Strength training targets large groups of muscles of the upper and lower body, effectively building and maintaining the strength and mass of these muscles. It typically involves weight or resistance, such as dumbbells, resistance bands, body weight. One needs to engage in strength training regularly, at least two to three days a week, to gain optimal benefits.
There are three main systems that provide sensory information which helps maintain balance: visual, vestibular, and somatosensory. These systems need to be integrated in the brain in order to create the sense of stability of your body and vision. For older folks, this integration is often worse. Ageing causes a declination in cognitive abilities, and as a result, maintaining balance and body posture can be more difficult.
To help improve their sense of balance, implementation of balance training and falls prevention training is often encouraged. Balance and falls prevention training programme aims to strengthen balance control in everyday activities and improve physical function, leading to improved fall-related self-efficacy, reduced fear of falling, and increased walking speed. It typically involves improving physical attributes that affect fall risk, such as balance, gait, strength, flexibility. Older adults will need to engage in flexibility and balance exercises for two to three sessions each week.
Enlist Rapid Physiocare’s Home Care Physiotherapy Services
Physical therapy has a vital role in the elderly and their health. That said, assisting the elderly in their physiotherapy journey requires much more care and attention as their body does not heal as well and as fast as younger age groups. To ensure that it is done safely, seeking rehabilitative specialist expertise is encouraged.
At Rapid Physiocare, we are dedicated to providing you with the support you need along the rehabilitation journey. With a team of well-trained physiotherapists, you can enjoy tailored physical therapy services that are designed to help combat the effects of ageing. These services include home care physiotherapy, home visit physiotherapy and home programme physiotherapy. We will work with you to restore and improve your bodily function, to make way for optimal functional independence.
Book an appointment with us today and let us be on this journey with you together.
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Halvarsson, A., Dohrn, I. M., & Ståhle, A. (2015). Taking balance training for older adults one step further: the rationale for and a description of a proven balance training programme. Clinical rehabilitation, 29(5), 417-425.