Physical therapy is often recommended by doctors for elderly adults who are recovering from an injury, illness, or surgery. Sometimes, it may even be recommended as a treatment for chronic pain. Physical therapy is an effective treatment for many conditions and it can help elderly adults to gain/regain strength which will ultimately help them have a better quality of life. Physical therapy is not a “quick fix”, however, and it may require time and effort for it to be effective. Here are a few tips for caregivers who are caring for an elderly adult going through physical therapy.
Physical therapy can be time consuming, with appointments once or twice a week. As a caregiver, it is important to encourage your elderly loved one to attend every appointment as each appointment puts them one step closer to their physical goals. Missing appointments can lead to slower progress or sometimes even regression.
Physical therapy often involves exercises that need to be done daily at home. Caregivers must encourage their elderly loved ones to complete these exercises and stay on track. When the exercise program designed by the physical therapist is followed exactly, an elderly adult can have the best chance of meeting their goal, whether it be recovery, strengthening, etc.
Caregivers should keep a record of their elderly loved one’s progress. Are there skills they couldn’t do last week, but can do this week? Are they able to walk, stand, exercise for longer periods of time? Caregivers can keep track of this progress and report it to their loved one’s doctor and physical therapist.
Caregivers should be observant and take note if their elderly loved one is experiencing problems with any of the exercises or is having pain. Physical therapists can help them to make modifications and to reduce any pain they may be having.
Physical therapy can be a long and grueling process for elderly adults. It is normal for them to feel like giving up, skipping exercises, or missing appointments due to frustration. Caregivers can help support their loved ones by celebrating successes and progress, listening to their frustrations and feelings, and by always being encouraging (but not forceful).