How to improve mobility in elderly people
As our bodies get older, joints can become stiff and painful, muscles aren’t as strong or flexible, and daily activities become harder. While aging is a natural part of life, you don’t need to resign yourself to a lack of mobility. Of course, there are several medical conditions that can affect the elderly and their mobility. But for those with general aches, pains and a decreased range of movement, physiotherapy can provide a great benefit.
Anybody with an elderly relative would only want the best for them. For example, if you notice your elderly family or friends’ physical abilities declining, recommend a trip to the physio. Rather than wait for muscles to degrade and weaken further, you can help your loved ones enjoy a more active life for longer. Here’s everything you need to know about elderly mobility.
What causes mobility to decline?
Age-related issues are extremely varied and different in every person. There are many Musculoskeletal issues that seem to affect the elderly more than their younger counterparts. Conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis are just two examples. However, there are additional problems for elderly folks even if they’re otherwise healthy.
Muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints tend to weaken or degrade as we age. It’s part of life, and while not pleasant, it’s something we need to accept. Everybody is different though, and often those who have maintained a healthy lifestyle in their younger years will be able to maintain good mobility for longer.
The weakening of muscles and tightening of joints makes movement more difficult, sometimes resulting in immense pain. Even if a patient doesn’t experience pain, they may still be limited in their range of movement. Physiotherapy can help.
Why is elderly mobility important?
We put a lot of effort into discovering how to improve mobility in elderly people because they mean so much to us. Parents, grandparents, even just close family friends. We all have relationships with older people and we want them to live a healthy, long and pain-free life. So, while we accept that certain things become more difficult in later years, we still want our loved ones to have a good quality of life.
One of the major issues with decreased mobility is the associated problems it can cause. For example, if an elderly person has a limited range of movement and leg strength, walking will be difficult. They may be able to get around the house, but walking for too long is going to painful and not possible. Not being able to exercise causes cardiovascular complications, and even increases the risk of diabetes.
Everyone deserves to maintain their independence and active lifestyle for as long as possible, which is exactly where physiotherapy for seniors comes into play.
Assessing mobility in elderly people
The benefits of physiotherapy for the elderly
No matter what your current level of mobility, physiotherapy can help you improve. There are so many benefits to physiotherapy, and it goes beyond just being able to walk more. Let’s take a look at all the benefits elderly people can get from regular physiotherapy.
Increasing muscle strength
Naturally, we need strong muscles to do the things we want to do. Whether it’s lifting objects, bending certain ways or supporting leg movement, muscles are crucial. As we get older, muscles tend to weaken and tighten. This decrease in strength and flexibility makes many tasks more difficult. You won’t be able to lift heavy items, and your limbs may not be able to stretch as much as they used to.
Physiotherapy works to increase muscle strength through a variety of exercises. It’s really no different from muscle strengthening for younger people, except the exercises are more suited to an elderly person. This improved muscular strength helps with flexibility, mobility and even reduces the risk of injuries.
A more active lifestyle
When we’re pain-free, movement becomes a whole lot easier. That’s what we try to achieve with elderly physiotherapy. By helping people maintain a good range of movement, they can be more active for longer. There are plenty of associated health benefits to this. Cardiovascular fitness is important, and while your marathon running days might be behind you, it’s still ideal to maintain good cardio health.
Heart disease, diabetes and a range of other medical conditions can be exacerbated or brought on by a lack of activity. Physiotherapy helps you do more for longer, and improves your overall health and well-being as a result.
Improved mental health
Mental health is prevalent among older Australians for a number of reasons. There’s loneliness, seeing friends and family pass away, and of course the realisation they can’t do what they used to. As we know, exercise and activity are always recommended for people dealing with mental health issues. That’s no different for the elderly, but the activities just look a little different.
Rather than spending hours on a treadmill, an elderly person may benefit from simply being able to walk around the block. Being able to complete a range of stretches and mobility exercises each morning can also be beneficial.
Decreased risk of falls and injury
Physiotherapy helps to improve strength, flexibility and also balance. This is important for the elderly, as a simple fall can have far more serious ramifications than a younger person. When elderly people can move around freely, with confidence, they’re less likely to suffer serious injuries from falls.
By improving balance, flexibility and muscle strength, an elderly person’s muscles and joints can also cope better with falls or injury. By starting from a healthy base, it’s reasonable to assume that recovery from injury will be faster.
Better quality of life and more independence
Ultimately, by working out how to improve mobility in elderly people, we can give them a better quality of life. Nobody likes being unable to do the things they love, regardless of their age. So, by helping our elderly loved ones maintain good movement and mobility, they can enjoy their hobbies and activities for longer, giving them more independence and a happier life.