The Importance of Physical Therapy for Seniors

As the years pass and as we age, our basic bodily functions, including strength, balance, flexibility and mobility, can begin to deteriorate. Fortunately, physical therapy, with the help of licensed physical therapists, can help seniors increase their mobility and maintain their independence longer. 

The largest gain from physical therapy is the reduction of side effects from a common senior ailment – osteoporosis – which is a bone disease that affects bone mass and density.

When seniors don’t stay active or visit a physical therapist regularly, there can be negative consequences, including:

  • An increased risk of falls due to the loss of strength.
  • Risk of bedsores or ulcers if the senior stays in the same position for long periods of time due to lack of mobility.
  • Pain from injuries suffered that could be long lasting if not treated correctly by a physical therapist.

Physical therapy is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Because each patient has a personal treatment plan, each exercise activity is based on your fitness level and adjusted to take past and present injuries into account.

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy is a specialty in the healthcare industry that includes the evaluation and treatment of those who have limitations in mobility.

If you are suffering from an illness or injury that results in pain, limited movement/loss of function or physical impairment, a physical therapist is a trained medical professional who may be able to help you work through those issues.

Common problems a physical therapist can evaluate and help treat include but are not limited to:

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke
  • Fractures
  • Arthritis
  • Amputations
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Physical therapy on-site at our senior living communities

A smiling, female resident stretching her arms in front of her while assisted by a caring physical therapist in a fitness room at a Sonida Senior Living community.

Because we understand the importance of physical therapy for seniors in our communities, most of our communities offer physical therapy services on-site. This includes our independent living communities, as well!

Physical therapy (PT) is not just for those receiving treatment in rehab facilities or residing in nursing homes. All seniors can benefit from the health benefits of PT.

Popular physical therapy exercises

Physical therapy exercises do not have to be difficult or complex. Below are a few of the most popular physical therapy exercises adults ages 65+ should focus on.

  • Standing on one leg
    • Stand with your feet together.
    • Lift your left knee up.
    • Hold the position for 10 seconds then return to the initial position.
    • Repeat the same exercise on your right side.
    • Hold onto the wall with one hand if needed.
  • Weight shifts
    • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and put weight onto your right foot.
    • Lift left foot and hold position for 30 seconds.
    • Then repeat on your left side.
  • Stepping side-to-side
    • Begin standing with your arms at your sides and feet together.
    • Step across in front of your left foot with your right leg.
    • Continue to step sideways uncrossing the right leg.
    • Reverse and cross your right behind your left leg.
    • Continue to step sideways uncrossing the left leg.

Physical therapy options near you

There are many options available for seniors in search of physical therapy services. Starting with your primary medical provider to see if they can offer a referral is a good start. 

There are also many independent physical therapist companies across the United States that are familiar with treating senior citizens.

In-home physical therapy options are also available. A licensed physical therapist will treat and manage your physical therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home. In most cases, Medicare and supplemental insurance will cover most, if not all, of physical therapy appointments, as long as your doctor determines the therapy is medically necessary.

It’s important to remember that physical therapy is an ongoing process that does not always have a definitive end date. For the senior population especially, there is a need to constantly stay in motion as much as possible. 

As people age, the deterioration of muscle strength, flexibility and balance can become dangerous if you don’t proactively stay as active as possible. Thank goodness for physical therapists and the role they play in keeping seniors healthy! 

Asian elderly couple using tablet and virtual reality simulator playing games in living room, couple feeling happy using time together lying on table at home
Asian elderly couple using tablet and virtual reality simulator playing games in living room, couple feeling happy using time together lying on table at home

Best Smartphone and Video Games for Seniors

Who says technology is only for those under 65 years old? Today’s older adults are embracing the tech age and becoming more and more tech-savvy.

Read blog

Find a community

If you’re a senior or caregiver looking for independent living, assisted living or memory care services for you or your loved one, contact us to schedule a tour or request information about a community near you.