Staying Strong as We Age
While many assume that loss of strength – debility – is an unavoidable part of the aging process, the reality is that adults can often remain physically active throughout their lives. There are ways to prevent debility as well as help older adults regain their strength.
What is debility?
As we grow older, our muscles lose strength and functionality. We also become more dependent and prone to falls or other injuries. In diagnosing debility we ask questions such as:
- What was your prior activity level?
- What are you capable of doing now?
- Do you experience shortness of breath walking or performing daily activities?
How is debility treated?
Debility is often a secondary diagnosis after an orthopedic, neurologic or cardiovascular event. Physical therapy is used to address the problem of debility and involves strength, conditioning and cardiovascular exercises as well as balance activities.
One of the first things a physical therapist will do is measure a patient’s level of endurance to set appropriate goals. For example: instead of getting the patient to be able to go up and down the stairs again, the goal is for the patient to be able to do so step-over-step and without being out of breath. Treatment is based on how active the patient currently is and what needs to be done to get him or her back to their previous way of life.
What does Good Shepherd do to treat debility?
Thorough physical therapy plans are created and active monitoring is performed to keep patients on track and in top condition. Treadmills, stationary bicycles, recumbent steppers and elliptical machines are all very traditional and effective methods of therapy available. Aquatic therapy also helps alleviate stress on the knees, hips and ankles, while enhancing the patient’s strength and/or fitness level. Of course, the key is active home exercise with a therapist monitoring progress.
There are a number of benefits of physical therapy. It promotes independence as well as builds strength, endurance and confidence.