Aging can have a bad reputation; however, there is no reason that growing older can’t be a journey full of adventure and opportunities to live life to the fullest. All you need is proper guidance, proactive steps, and a positive attitude.
And there is proof. Research suggests that improvements in physical function are possible well into older adulthood, and supports that continued activity as you age helps fight cognitive decline.
With the guidance of a physical therapist, you can improve mobility, maintain your independence, and continue participating in your favorite daily activities. As a movement expert, a physical therapist can provide an evaluation and design a treatment program to address any of your ailments and deficiencies, make modifications based on other preexisting conditions, and help you achieve your goals.
The following tips can keep you active and independent as you age:
- Staying fit. Whether you are participate in regular exercise or just want to stay fit for daily activities, exercise is necessary. Exercise is proven to help improve balance, strengthen bones, and prevent heart and brain conditions. A prescribed strength training and aerobic exercise program will help you maintain and strengthen critical muscle groups needed for your life.
- Staying balanced. Maintaining balance and avoiding falls are imperative to maintaining a quality of life and living independently. A physical therapist can prescribe a customized program of static and dynamic balance activities and exercises to improve your balance and prevent dangerous falls.
- Assessing the terrain. A physical therapist can make recommendations that make your home and other environments safe by eliminating dangerous barriers. Typically this means removing throw rugs, loose carpets, clutter, and modifying entry thresholds with ramps.
- Staying engaged. Successful aging is not only impacted by one’s environment, but also how one interacts with their environment. Fear and social isolation are substantial factors that increase fall risk and jeopardize independence. To ensure active and successful aging, continue to engage with friends, family, and the community. Social experiences with friends and family help diminish fear and improve physical and mental capabilities.
Stephens C, Breheny M, Mansvelt J. Healthy ageing from the perspective of older people: a capability approach to resilience. Psychol Health. 2015;30(6):715–731. Article Summary in PubMed.
Avin KG, Hanke TA, Kirk-Sanchez N, et al. Management of falls in community-dwelling older adults: clinical guidance statement from the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association. Phys Ther. 2015;95(6):815–834. Free Article.
Young WR, Mark Williams A. How fear of falling can increase fall-risk in older adults: Applying psychological theory to practical observations. Gait Posture. 2015;41(1):7–12. Free Article.
Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLOS Med. 2010;7(7):e1000316. Free Article.
Sherrington C, Whitney JC, Lord SR, Herbert RD, Cumming RG, Close JC. Effective exercise for the prevention of falls: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008;56(12):2234–2243. Article Summary in PubMed.
Moreland J, Richardson J, Chan DH, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the secondary prevention of falls in older adults. Gerontology. 2003;49(2):93–116. Article Summary in PubMed.
House JS, Landis KR, Umberson D. Social relationships and health. Science. 1988;241(4865):540–545. Article Summary in PubMed.
Authored by Joseph V Libera, PT, DPT, MBA, MPH, GCS
Article Source: Move Forward PT