These days, phone conversations with my mother almost exclusively center on doctors’ visits and therapy sessions. As the sole caregiver for my father, and herself in declining health, my siblings and I have been forced to face the inevitable obstacles in having them age in place. Although their town is blessed with top-notch medical care, their rural location makes getting that care a lesson in patience and fortitude. My father, almost 90, still insists on driving the narrow country lanes himself as if he was 30 years younger, despite hearing loss and declining eyesight. His daily swim therapy sessions, prescribed following back surgery, quickly dwindled to once a week and then stopped. Home therapy plans were not adhered to for long either, and needless to say full recovery was never achieved.
With a retiring Baby Boomer generation, more Geriatric PTAs and PTs will be needed to care for them and their parents. With both groups enjoying longer life spans due to medical advances and healthier lifestyles that need will stretch well into the decade to come. One proven method of staving off the ills of aging is regular exercise. A recent study has shown the feasibility and aerobic benefits of treadmill walking for ALF patients. A review of evidentiary findings concludes that physical therapist- lead group exercise is effective in reducing fall frequency and improving balance in older individuals when compared to non-exercisers. PT-lead group exercise also improves participant adherence when compared with traditional home-based therapy.
But the question remains, given all the preventative benefits, how do we deliver therapist-led group exercise to homebound or logistically-challenged patients like my parents given that options out there don’t resolve compliancy issues? Have ideas? Leave a comment on our Facebook page. Interested in working as a Geriatric PTA or PT, contact our team of industry experts at 800 535 0076 or download our mobile app for great nationwide opportunities!