Older people commonly face more health problems than younger people. In fact, with age, our body becomes less resistant to disease and combined with the “wasting” effect that life has on our body, once we reach old age, we need more medical care.
Fortunately, geriatric physical therapy has ways to boost the health of older patients. The main tool of this medical discipline is a therapy that makes it possible for people to live with diseases such as osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, joints or hip replacement, etc. which significantly reduces the symptoms of these health problems.
Physical fitness in geriatrics
One of the main goals of geriatric physical therapy is to help older people improve their balance and strength, while at the same time increasing levels of self-confidence, they remain physically active throughout the process. Therefore, a physical activity practiced regularly during old age, is destined to be a factor that increases physical fitness levels, reduces pain and introduces health benefits that make life much less difficult for older people.
In addition, this form of physical therapy may be helpful after older patients have suffered some type of injury from accidents such as falls, resulting in fractures or some other similar problems. Considering that, according to information obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1/3 of all elderly people fall at least once a year, however, exercise and geriatric physical therapy can prevent these events and result in a faster recovery.
As for the real exercises that are recommended for older people are: stretching, walking, lifting weights, aquatic therapy and some specific forms of physical activity aimed at a certain part of the injured body, all of which are highly recommended. On the other hand, these forms of exercise can be done at home. However, it is best for the older person to consult with his/her health care provider and therapist to learn the necessary, safe and productive exercises to know which are most effective for his/her purposes.
Geriatric physical therapy involves manual therapy, which manifests itself through the manipulation of patients’ joints and other forms of tissue, favoring blood circulation and helping to restore mobility lost after an injury or due to the effects of a health condition.
In addition, once undergoing geriatric physical therapy, older patients are taught the theoretical parts of recovery and injury prevention by applying exercise and managing daily tasks without compromising their health, increasing their independence and self-confidence and raising their quality of life to a higher level.
The help of a physical therapist in this type of therapy can be very beneficial. The therapist can help a person through one-on-one or group therapy. However, these qualified people understand and know everything about the health and well-being of older people. Thus, they are able to perform all diagnostic, educational and therapeutic parts of the treatments, teaching their patients how to use physical activity for the prevention of health problems, even when they leave the hospital or any other form of the health facility.
Can hiking help?
Speaking of the importance of physical activity in the prevention of health problems and injuries characteristic of an older person, we cannot fail to mention hiking. In other words, this activity is very beneficial for all the elderly.
As a result of hiking, older people will get muscles in their legs that will make regular walks much easier. However, during hiking sessions, older people have to be very careful and not be injured by forcing their joints and muscles. In addition, in order to avoid muscle cramps in the legs, it is recommended to take magnesium supplements before participating in hiking activities. However, ask your doctor about these magnesium supplements.
“Hiking requires a constant rhythm that does not have to be intensive. Rather, the elderly can modify it according to their taste, keeping injuries and health problems under control. It is, therefore, a long-term low-intensity resistance activity.