Physical Therapy and Seniors: A Perfect Fit
While recovering from injury or illness can be difficult at any age, it is particularly challenging for older adults. Throw in chronic pain and age-related declines in everything from strength to coordination, and the ability to continue to perform everyday tasks is often detrimentally impacted in older adults.
Read on to learn how physical therapy plays a vital role in the lives of seniors -- not only by helping them recover from potentially debilitating conditions but also as a priceless preventative measure aimed at supporting independent living for as long as possible.
Benefits of Physical Therapy for Seniors
Many seniors' initial interactions with physical therapists occur after a fall or other hospitalization. This is hardly surprising given data from the CDC indicating that one out of every four people aged 65 and older falls every year. Many of these lead to serious injuries -- such as broken bones and head injuries -- requiring 800,000 hospitalizations annually, including 300,000 just for hip fractures.
Even worse? Not only does falling once increase the chances of falling again by double, but it also leads to the fear of falling resulting in isolation, decreased mobility, and further increased risk factors for falls and fall-related injuries.
Physical therapy following hospitalization can improve patient outcomes across many factors, including reducing the risk of future falls; preventing infections such as pneumonia and ulcers; supporting strength and endurance, and decreasing pain.
Physical therapy also offers an invaluable educational component through which older adults can learn more about how to improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being through body movement.
The Proactive Role of Physical Therapy
An oft-heard adage insists that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." This sentiment is particularly applicable when it comes to physical therapy.
Because while PT is often thought of as primarily reactive to acute health conditions, it can also be useful for managing some different chronic ailments, including everything from arthritis and osteoporosis to dementia and other brain disorders. For seniors facing balance issues related to vision loss, poor nutrition, neurological conditions and other factors, physical therapy can offer a beneficial tuneup.
The best part? The more seniors move their bodies, the more confident they become in doing so. In other words, physical therapy has the power to turn a negative cycle into positive progress by keeping seniors active and engaged. Failure to utilize physical therapy, meanwhile, can trigger to potentially life-threatening consequences.
The Increasing Need for Physical Therapists
The benefits of physical therapy for seniors are increasingly well-known. And due to the rapidly aging population, the need for their services is expected to skyrocket in the years ahead. According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA), senior citizens will account for nearly 22 percent of the country's population by 2040 -- up from 14.5 percent in 2014. Factor in that older adults are also living longer, and experts agree that the physical therapy profession is poised for exponential growth.
Physical therapy assistant programs provide one of the quickest and most direct entry points into this critical field. Whether you've always wanted to work with seniors or you're only hoping to help people of all ages and abilities enjoy healthier, happier lives, beginning your career as a physical therapy assistant can open many doors. Request information from Sochi today to find out more about how to take the next step toward a fulfilling new career as a crucial contributor to the healthcare system.