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therapeutic exercise fitness for health

Age Related Decline

As we all age, we begin to lose function of our bodies. Our muscles and bones begin to naturally deteriorate, which in turn leads to dependency, hospitalization, disability, or even mortality. Functional decline in general can leave patients with a significantly decreased quality of life, but physical therapy treatments can help slow down the process.

The number of elderly patients with function-related health issues is growing across the United States. Because of this, it is important for medical professionals to understand the links between functional limitation, disability, and illness. It is our responsibility to develop new and effective methods of treatment that will allow elderly patients to maintain their function for as long as possible.

Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” form of treatment for this type of physical roadblock. There are several health conditions that can lead to functional decline, including obesity, sarcopenia, cognitive decline, and chronic pain. While medical treatments for pausing decline are still being researched, preventative physical and occupational therapies have proven successful in assessing risk factors and slowing decline in the elderly.

How does physical therapy help with functional decline?

Physical therapy can benefit patients of all ages, as it is linked to improved health, wellness, and longevity. However, recent studies have indicated that physical therapy treatments become significantly more prevalent once patients age past 65. 

Using physical therapy as a way to prevent the rate of functional decline in the elderly addresses several concerns. This includes the deterioration of muscles, chronic diseases, balance disorders, and cognitive decline. Physical therapy is an effective way for elderly patients to remain active, even as their bodies become weaker.

In a 2015 study, 410 elderly adults aged 75 or older were split into three separate groups, each receiving different forms of care for 12 months. Two of these groups participated in either a functional task exercise or preventative physical therapy program, while the control group received their usual course of care. Each participant was then given a questionnaire where they were asked to self-report their levels of functional ability after the year was over. 

While all three groups, unfortunately, showed signs of continued functional decline throughout the year, the rate of decline for the two experimental groups had slowed by approximately two-thirds. This demonstrates success in physical therapy as a preventative course of treatment for functional decline in the elderly. In another 2016 review, it was concluded that “supervised resistance and/or aerobic PA interventions significantly [improve] performance-based, composite PF outcomes among community-dwelling older adults.”

Refer your patients to Fitness For Health:
If your patients are elderly and/or suffering from functional decline, refer them to Fitness For Health today. Our treatment plans are individualized, based on the needs of each specific patient, in order to help them relieve pain, improve function, and reclaim their independence. Our staff will work closely with you and the patient, in order to address any health concerns and help them achieve their physical goals. With our advanced practices and experience, we can help significantly slow your patients’ functional decline and help improve their overall quality of life.