The grandmother of a friend of mine, as she entered her eighties, was very fond of doling out a simple piece of advice to anyone who cared to listen. You can do whatever you like in life, she would say, but whatever you do, don’t get old.
The plain fact is that advances in medical research and technology mean in the developed world mean people are living for longer – a recent actuarial risk calculator I saw predicted that someone aged 53 now, in good health and with a reasonably healthy lifestyle could expect to live to between 81 and 84, depending on gender (women, on average, live longer than men).
That’s a full ten years more than someone at the same age in 1981 would have been expected to live and around 30 years more than would have been the case a century ago.
But of course, there’s a downside to longer life, which is that as we age our bodies go through significant physical changes and those changes accelerate more quickly as the years go by.
Some of these changes are things that don’t really impact significantly on day-to-day life – hair loss and a loss of energy are common in older people – but others can have a debilitating effect on the extent to which we can enjoy life and contribute to an erosion of independence.
So, it’s important to stay fit and physiotherapy can help a great deal with some of the limiting physical effects of ageing.
The human body is a complex machine at all stages of life, but there are specific changes which happen in later life. They include reduced bone density, reduced muscle strength, a deterioration in coordination, joint pain and a slowing of the metabolism, which can increase body fat.
Together, these elements of ageing can mean we’re not as steady on our feet as we once were, some physical activities are beyond us and routine activities like climbing the stairs can become arduous.
Modern medicine has done many things, but it has yet to find a way of reversing the ageing process, so we have to look for other ways to try to slow down its effect on us.
Where physiotherapy can really help is in improving muscle strength, balance, coordination and management of joint pain – all of which can help to keep us active and able to enjoy life to the full for as long as possible.
Research has shown that using physiotherapy to improve certain areas of physical health can lead to better emotional wellbeing as well, so there’s a psychological benefit to how we can help you as well.
The key is to start early. Booking a physiotherapy consultation before you think you might need the service of a physiotherapist is a good idea because it will allow one of our trained therapists to spot potential problems and help you to take preventative action.
Most people are still very active in their sixties and this is a great time to get an overview of your physical health.
Additionally, we can advise you on how to exercise safely to help you stay free of injury and to maintain mobility and flexibility without putting yourself at risk. Studies have consistently shown that regular exercise also helps to preserve the risk and impact of illness, improve memory and maintain good motor control.
When you book a consultation with us at West 1 Physio, we’ll carry out a detailed assessment to get a good picture of your overall health and look at areas that may be giving you cause for concern. We’ll then decide whether treatment is necessary and, if so, agree a tailor-made plan to help you work towards some specific, achievable goals
Contact us to find out more about the benefits of physiotherapy for people aged over 65 or to talk to us about booking a consultation.