People are living longer so it is important to stay healthy and active to ward off and reduce the physical and mental signs of ageing in order to enjoy those extended years.
As we age our body inevitably goes through many physical changes. These natural age related changes include reduced bone density, reduced muscle strength, increased body fat, poorer coordination and stiffer joints. These normal effects of ageing can affect mobility and balance making older people more susceptible to falls and break bones. Older people also become more prone to illness such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. All of this can have a big impact on their daily lives and reduce their independence. For example elderly people often feel that they are not as quick and steady on their feet as they used to be and find that stairs are more difficult. This can then affect their ability to get out and about, which can lead to reduced independence.
However, we do not have to accept this as an inevitable part of ageing. While physiotherapy cannot stop ageing it can help to reduce the impact that it has on our bodies and our lives. Physiotherapists are trained to identify physical and other factors that prevent people from being as active and independent as they can be, and then find ways of overcoming them. This makes physiotherapists ideally placed to help older people stay as active as they can be. In fact physiotherapy has been shown to improve many of the factors associated with ageing including strength, balance, coordination, flexibility and pain levels. Physiotherapy has been proven by research to help older adults to maintain their health, well-being, functional ability and independence.
Physiotherapists can provide advice on how to safely exercise. Studies have shown that older adults who engage in regular physical activity gain many benefits including improved balance, strength, coordination, motor control, flexibility, endurance and even memory. Exercise can also help to reduce the risk and impact of illnesses that are more likely to affect older people. Research also shows how effective physiotherapists are at treating and preventing joint problems, balance disorders, risk of falls, strength decline and reducing high blood pressure and obesity.
If you decide that you could benefit from physiotherapy your physiotherapist should start by carrying out a detailed assessment to determine the specific areas that may be having an impact on you. This assessment would typically include looking at your strength, range of movement, balance and walking.
Together you and your physiotherapist will set specific goals to help you address the areas that are difficult for you. They will then use this information to design a tailor made programme.
Physiotherapy interventions that are proven to be effective for older people include stretching and strengthening exercise programmes and practicing activities that challenge balance. Your physiotherapist will work with you to ensure that you can remain as independent as possible.
Give us a call at NorthWest Physio + on 09 412 2945 and ask how we can help you.
Also, check out this link to get some tips on staying active, maintaining flexibility and reducing the risk of falls.