Many people mistakenly believe that it is only worth seeing a physiotherapist after surgery or an injury.
However, a regular check-up by a physiotherapist has many benefits, particularly for people aged 65 and over.
Assessment and intervention by a physiotherapist is useful in the prevention and treatment of falls, and can be effective in managing a range of long-term health conditions commonly affecting seniors.
Falls: Prevention and Recovery
At least one-third of people aged 65 years and over have a fall each year, often resulting in serious injuries such as hip fractures, and hospitalisation.
While little niggles, aches, and pains become more common as we age, we shouldn’t just accept them as part of the ageing process.
These seemingly trifling issues can cause us to become more unsteady on our feet, and less active.
Inactive people tend to have poorer balance and weaker muscles, increasing the risk of falls.
By seeing a physiotherapist for a mobility assessment, older people are often surprised to find that:
- Much can be done to ease these little niggles;
- Potential problems can be picked up and addressed before they become an issue;
- Simple activities and exercises can boost both their balance and strength;
- A walking aid may give them increased confidence and mobility.
While it seems logical that physiotherapy can assist in reducing the likelihood and impact of falls, what is not as well-known is how it can also be of benefit to seniors suffering from ailments such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).
How Physiotherapy Can Help COPD
Increased breathlessness and coughing can take their toll on sufferers of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD.
COPD includes a number of conditions which affect the lungs, worsening over time, with the most common being emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
While COPD can’t be cured, treatment aims to slow the progression of the disease, decrease the risk of complications, and reduce the symptoms.
In addition to medication and oxygen therapy, research has shown that physiotherapy is a vital component in managing COPD.
Once again, it is important for people with COPD to remain as physically active as possible – and a physiotherapist can provide an exercise and training program tailored to the individual’s needs and condition.
Urinary Tract Infections in Seniors
UTIs are common in seniors.
Women of any age are at a higher risk of UTIs than men, mainly due to having a shorter urethra, allowing bacteria to easily invade the urinary tract. The incidence of UTIs appears to increase with age.
Research shows that people with diabetes, men with prostate problems, and long-term care residents, also fall into the category of being at increased risk of UTIs.
One of the problems with UTIs in older people is that the classic signs such as frequency, urgency and/or pain may be absent.
Instead, the infection may manifest in non-specific symptoms such as confusion, falls, fever and general malaise. An undiagnosed UTI can quickly lead to serious complications such as sepsis.
Physical therapy has an important part to play in preventing UTI, as physiotherapists can help seniors with training, education, and exercises to:
- Improve the condition of their pelvic floor;
- Empty the bladder more efficiently;
- Create better bowel habits; and
- Promote full relaxation of the pelvic-floor when voiding.
Mobile Physiotherapy Services for Seniors
The overall aim of physiotherapy for seniors is to support older people not just in their desire to remain independent but to also improve their overall health and well-being.
At Brisbane Spine Clinic, we are dedicated to helping improve the quality of life of our older patients, offering a mobile physiotherapy service for seniors on the Gold Coast.
If you are aged over 65, you can book a consultation with a physiotherapist today, regardless of whether you are living in your own home, a retirement village or aged care facility.