Physiotherapy for Senior Adults

Older people often have mobility problems due to ageing and long-term illnesses such as arthritis, COPD and Parkinson's disease. Physiotherapy can help them improve their mobility and muscle strength. The excerpt below discusses the various considerations that you should make when planning physiotherapy for senior citizens. 

Management plan

The main aim of the management plan is to educate the patient about the benefits of the intervention and to prepare him or her for the physio exercises. During the first meeting, the physiotherapist and patient should set intervention goals. For example, if the patient has mobility problems due to arthritis, the intervention goals should aim at restoring the patient's mobility. It is vital to be realistic since patients often get disappointed if they are unable to achieve a specific goal. 

Viable interventions

The chosen interventions should be patient-specific. Below are some physiotherapy techniques that can help older people. 

  1. Manual therapy is a hands-on technique that manipulates muscles and joints to relieve pain and improve blood circulation and flexibility in affected areas.
  2. Cold therapy uses ice to reduce pain and swelling. It is common in the treatment of arthritis.
  3. Electrical stimulation involves the use of electrical pulses to relieve pain and strengthen muscles.
  4. Hydrotherapy involves performing a variety of excises inside a warm pool. People with arthritis can benefit from this intervention.
  5. Patients with COPD can benefit from thoracic mobility exercises and breathing exercises. 

Lifestyle changes

Physiotherapy is often accompanied by lifestyle changes. Patients are encouraged to stop harmful behaviours such as smoking and overindulgence in alcohol. They also have to observe a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Involve family members

Family members can be a source of motivation among senior adults. When incorporated into the management plan, they can help their loved ones conduct physio exercises at home. Older adults with diseases such as dementia may have memory problems. As such, family members have to assist them in attending physiotherapy sessions. 

Pain management

Some of the physio exercises can be painful. As such, the intervention may have to be combined with a variety of pain-reducing medication. The physiotherapist must evaluate other medicines taken by the patient to prevent severe side effects.


At regular intervals, the physiotherapist, patient and family members will evaluate the success of the intervention. If there are no notable improvements in the patient, the physiotherapist may have to change tactics. In severe situations, other medical procedures such as surgery are considered. 

The main considerations to make when planning physiotherapy for senior adults are a management plan, viable interventions, lifestyle changes, family members, pain management and evaluation.