Finding the right senior living community for a loved one can be incredibly difficult, especially if that person suffers from chronic health conditions. It’s not just about finding an assisted living home that offers residents help with the activities of daily life so they can maintain some level of independence, although that’s certainly important. It’s just as essential to seek out an assisted living community that helps all its residents maintain as much physical strength, endurance, and range of motion as possible. That’s where therapy comes in.

What Forms of Therapy Are Offered at Assisted Living?

Seniors staying in assisted living homes sometimes experience serious injuries or illnesses that require hospitalization. Unfortunately, those experiences can leave them deconditioned. Upon returning home, they may have a hard time getting back into the swing of things and might need extra help for a while. Physical and occupational therapists can work with residents in memory care or assisted living homes to help them return to a more mobile and independent state following a hospitalization. 

Physical Therapy for Seniors

Physical therapists work with seniors to regain large muscle control. They help previously hospitalized or otherwise deconditioned residents regain strength in the legs and arms, increase or maintain muscle tone, improve endurance and balance, and decrease fall risks. Activities performed in physical therapy could include targeted exercises, stretches, soft tissue massage, and others.

Occupational Therapy for Seniors

Occupational therapy helps seniors struggling with mobility deficits find new ways to complete daily tasks and maintain their independence. The therapists focus more on fine motor movements than large muscle control and are also trained to help people learn how to use appropriate adaptive equipment.

Why Therapy Might Be Necessary?

Seniors almost always need some level of physical and/or occupational therapy following hospitalizations for serious injuries or illnesses. People who undergo surgical procedures should receive therapy services even if they do not need prolonged hospital stays. Physical and occupational therapy can also be beneficial for seniors who have suffered strokes or are having trouble managing arthritis and other chronic conditions that impact mobility.

The Benefits of Therapy in Assisted Living

People who age at home often have to attend outpatient physical and occupational therapy, which can be a huge hassle given that most therapy patients are in some way mobility-impaired. That’s not an issue when seniors live in assisted living communities. There, administrators can work with the prescribing doctor and local physical or occupational therapists to schedule sessions on-site.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get seniors who are already exhausted from their battles with injuries or illness to participate. Working with geriatric therapists who understand the challenges faced by aging populations can help, and so can informing seniors of the following benefits of physical and occupational therapy.

1. Stay Mobile

The primary purpose of physical therapy is to enhance mobility, which can be significantly impaired as a result of deconditioning. Getting seniors back into a state of maximum mobility as quickly as possible following hospitalizations makes it easier for them to get around more freely, reduces fall risks, and allows them to return to enjoyable activities.

2. Reduce Health Risks

Prolonged bed rest can lead to all kinds of secondary health issues, from pressure sores to pneumonia. Physical therapy gets seniors up and moving safely as quickly as possible, reducing the risk of their developing these and other health problems related to a sedentary lifestyle.

3. Maintain Independence

Physical and, especially, occupational therapy help people maintain their independence. While physical therapy helps people regain their strength and general mobility, occupational therapy focuses specifically on helping people re-learn how to perform the fine movements required for the activities of daily living. Getting back into a routine that involves independent dressing, bathing, toileting, and other important tasks can also boost morale.

4. Improve Overall Quality of Life

Physical and occupational therapy can enhance seniors’ general quality of life by supporting continued social engagement, allowing people to remain independent and helping them avoid issues related to prolonged bed rest. No matter what level of independence seniors had before their accidents or illnesses, returning to that level is a better option when it comes to the overall quality of life than losing functions permanently.

Find the Right Senior Living Home

Not all senior living communities offer physical and occupational therapy. For those living in Juneau, Alaska, there’s about to be a new option. Riverview Senior Living will be opening in 2023, and we plan on offering both physical and occupational groups along with respite care for seniors. Call (907) 723-2282 to learn more or schedule a tour of our new community.