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How Physical Therapy Can Help the Elderly During Winter Months

Looking after one’s health is especially important during the winter months, but nobody is more susceptible to winter-related health complications than seniors. Older people are far more sensitive to drastic temperature changes, so dealing with the discomfort of freezing temperatures can result in serious health conditions. Not only do the sleet and snow cause greater chances of slipping and falling, but joint pain can also worsen due to changes in atmospheric pressure. 

There are several ways to relieve any pain caused by freezing temperatures, one of the most effective methods being physical therapy. Here are some ways that this treatment can help the elderly during the winter months. 

Prevention of Injury

Falling is one of the main causes of injuries in older adults, with over 25% of Americans over 65 years old being susceptible each year. As the body ages, it loses balance naturally. Add this to the wearing out of joints, which affect one’s stability, and you have a high risk for members of older populations falling more easily. Cold winter exacerbates this, with more seniors falling during the colder months than other times of the year. 

While cold weather and age factor into the likelihood of falling, it can still be prevented with regular movement, balance therapy, and other exercises. Physical therapy can enhance one’s coordination and promote an overall better sense of health. Seniors can work with PTs to regain their balance and strength to prevent falls and serious injuries from occurring. 

Keeping Active While Indoors

Staying active is an essential part of geriatric care, and this is especially true when turbulent winter storms create a greater risk for hypothermia and frostbite. This doesn’t have to put a damper on an active lifestyle to keep seniors healthy and moving. While being idle by the warmth of fire might sound more appealing, but it can encourage a whole host of physical health issues such as weight gain, pain, and muscle deterioration. Remaining active indoors is key to maintaining good health. Here are ways older adults can accomplish this. 

Stretching

Simple stretches can keep the body limber and improve posture. It also promotes good blood flow and keeps any chronic pain at bay.

Equipment-Free Exercise

Getting a good workout in doesn’t require equipment. Exercises such as yoga and bodyweight movements can be done any place at any time. 

Deskercise

These are exercises that can be done while sitting and are not necessarily limited to just the office area. Seniors can do them with or without a desk to get their muscles moving. 

Encourage Mental Health and Independence

Physical therapy is also helpful for seniors’ mental health, which can dip during wintertime. These struggles are especially amplified for older adults as they grapple with the consequences of aging. PTs will promote physical health through exercise and concentrate on establishing an overall good quality of life. By helping elderly patients achieve their individual objectives, therapists are encouraging good self-esteem and independence. 

Keeping one’s mental health intact is important during this time since social isolation can develop, especially during the pandemic. Physical activity, routine, and regular interaction (whether physical or virtual) can greatly benefit seniors’ health and overall wellbeing. 

Pain Management

Pain is often more persistent in older adults than it is for the younger adult population. Cold fronts can amplify this pain, causing the elderly to feel the full effects of osteoporosis or arthritis. Physical therapy can provide long-term relief for chronic ailments, especially when practiced regularly. Movement is used to increase pain thresholds while providing relief for chronic symptoms, ultimately reducing the need for more pain management treatments and medications like opioids and emergency room visits.  

Conclusion

Older adults require a different level of care as they continue to age, and this is particularly true during extreme weather shifts. Joint pain, hypothermia, and depression can all occur during the winter, and finding solutions to each problem can be difficult. Fortunately, physical therapy can address each one by allowing seniors to have improved physical stamina and more independence. Continuing these treatments after the winter season can further promote better health for older adults, resulting in a healthier life overall. 

At Agile Urgent Care, we provide full-service and walk-in medical services that are readily available, even when your doctor isn’t. Whether you require in-clinic services for adults or telemedicine for geriatric patients, our doctors have got you covered. Contact us for our services today!

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