There are many things that science has achieved over the centuries, but one nut it simply hasn’t been able to crack is the tricky feat of turning back time.
So while we’ll all face many unknowns as we go through life, the one thing over which we have complete certainty is that while we continue to stand upright and sniffing the air, we are always getting older.
And apart from wisdom, what age also brings are challenges. Lots of them, and many linked to our capacity to continue to do the things we always did.
Health in later life isn’t just a challenge for the individual, it’s also an issue for those of us who’ve made it our business to protect the welfare of the people in our care. For us as physiotherapists, the biggest problem we see is in mobility in older people.
There’s no getting away from it: the older we get, the more our ability is affected.
This isn’t just about the physical ability of older limbs, muscles and joints to meet unrealistic demands that are made of them, either – although that’s certainly a factor – it’s also about the other health issues that begin to affect how able we are to do the things we want to do.
Actually, yes … and no.
As we get older our bone density reduces, we tend to carry proportionately more body fat (note, this doesn’t always equate to being overweight), our eyesight and hearing tend to erode, which impacts on motor skills (coordination and balance) and we naturally tend to live life at a slower pace, meaning we move less, even if we happen to move well.
Then there are the other age-related conditions that play a part in our mobility – as we get older, we become more susceptible to things like colds as well as the obvious age-related conditions that relate to heart health, cancer, rheumatism, arthritis and so on.
When we’re dealing with multiple health conditions, we’re less inclined to move and exercise in a way that helps to preserve mobility – and like all engines (which, after all, is what it is), your body will begin to seize up if it’s not used.
That presents physiotherapists like us with a challenge.
How do we make sure that we’re helping older patients to do achieve optimum mobility whilst at the same time ensuring we’re legislating for conditions that might be barriers to that?
The simple answer is that we work very closely with all our patients – and especially our older clients – to fully understand not just their musculoskeletal health, but also their general wellness.
In some cases, where patients are referred to us by other health professionals, such as orthopaedic surgeons, osteopathists and so on, that’s quite easy, because generally, those referrals come with a comprehensive history of the individual’s health.
But when the patient is a private client who may or may not even be aware of health issues they may be facing, it becomes a bit trickier.
One of the first things we do when you come to see us at West 1 Physio is to go through your current health and your medical history in detail so we can build a comprehensive picture of what the limitations might be and how we can work with and around those to give you the best possible physiotherapy programme to keep your mobility at its optimum level.
What’s important to remember is that it may not be possible in later life to have the same scope of mobility you had in your younger days, there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the best mobility that is possible in your individual circumstances.
We see a great many older people who have given up on any hope of moving more freely and in less discomfort than they do when they first come through our door – and yet, we manage to help the vast majority of those people to significantly improve their range of mobility by providing tailored physiotherapy programmes that meet their individual needs and recognise the reality of their general health.
And in the end, better mobility almost always means a better quality of life.
If you’re worried about your mobility, our physiotherapy services for older people at West 1 Physio could be the answer you’ve been looking for. Contact us to make an appointment and find out how we can help you to enjoy all that life can offer.