As we go through different stages in life, from childhood, adolescence and adulthood into our senior years, it becomes even more important to adopt a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent common conditions and illness. As they say, prevention is always better and easier than the cure.
Common conditions and illnesses experienced by seniors:
As one grows older, there are changes in the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems that can affect several organs and how they function, which can lead to more serious issues. Some common conditions and illnesses include:
• Mental health issues
• Osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal disorders
• Chronic diseases (heart disease, respiratory diseases and diabetes)
• Sexual dysfunction
• Menopause in women and andropause in men
• Increased risk of cancer
By addressing common risk factors and improving overall health and wellness, it is possible to maintain and boost the quality of life as one grows older. Healthy eating, physical activity, avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and practicing stress management and relaxation strategies to improve mental wellness can reduce or even prevent these common diseases. A physical therapist can help you improve your health and wellness with a well-balanced exercise and injury prevention program to keep your muscles, bones, and organs healthy.
It is never too late to start a health plan and fitness program individualized for your specific needs. Safe and progressive exercise can increase strength, improve flexibility and boost quality of life for individuals of all ages.
Tips for improving mobility and pain management for seniors:
- After a comprehensive initial evaluation to assess your current fitness levels and personal goals, an individualized progressive exercise program consisting of isometric or isotonic exercises will be prescribed by your physical therapist.
- For individuals diagnosed with cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, ask a physician if exercise is right for you, and then contact a physical therapist.
- Consult a nutritionist for advice on a healthy eating plan. Calorie restriction is an essential part of weight loss.
- Make a conscious effort to be more active, such as walking around the house and at work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Identify exercises that you enjoy and do them as often as your body allows. It is easier to stay motivated and consistent when you enjoy what you are doing. It is important to note that a little bit of soreness for a day or two is a good thing, but contact your physical therapist if you feel any sharp pain that gets worse.
- Invest in comfortable footwear. This will encourage you to walk, exercise more and reduce the risk of injuries to the joints.
- Find an ‘exercise buddy’ to help you stay motivated and accountable.
To prevent injuries and to have the best and safest possible experience, it is important for seniors to consult with a physical therapist for an individualized program. Fall prevention in particular is an important precaution. The physical therapist will evaluate your current capabilities and take into account the whole person, including medical conditions, medications, personal interests and beliefs.
The therapist will use several measures and modalities to promote the healing and rehabilitation of muscles, bones and joints. Some of them include:
• Ultrasound to heal connective tissue (tendons and ligaments).
• Manual therapy which includes mobilizations, manipulations and massage.
• Resistance training to boost muscle strength.
• Cold compress for acute injuries and heat to relax muscular spasms.
• Low level laser for muscle and connective tissue injuries.
• Functional electrical stimulation to restore muscle strength.
• The use of tape to support muscles and joints.
The sooner you work with a physical therapist, the better. If you or someone you know is over the age of 50, advise them to take steps to be proactive about their health. Call us today and learn more about what physical therapy can do for you.
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