Home physiotherapy

How Does Home Physiotherapy Work for Elderly

Struck by operation, disease or frailty, the elderly may regress to reduced activity levels or even be home-bound/bed-bound. Halting this regression as much as possible and rehabilitating their mobility, strength, and balance will significantly improve the elderly’s well-being. However, sometimes it may not be convenient for the family to arrange time-off or transport to bring the elderly to a physiotherapy facility. Home physiotherapy greatly helps this aspect by allowing the elderly to regain strength without the hassle of caregiver taking leave or calling a taxi/ambulance.

If you are considering home physiotherapy for your loved ones, here is some helpful information.

How to prepare for a home physiotherapy session

Having the following prepared will facilitate a smooth assessment and exercise session:

  • Discharge summary from hospital or doctor’s referral letter, if available
  • X-ray or MRI report, if available
  • Blood pressure machine
  • Oximeter
  • Walking aid, if any
  • Elderly to wear comfortable clothes for assessment and exercise
  • Elderly to have the meal around 1 hour before the home physiotherapy session (no empty/very full stomach)
  • Elderly to have taken all the necessary medication

What does a physiotherapist do during the home physiotherapy session

Do expect some or all of the following will be done, depending on your loved one’s condition (the list is not exhaustive):

Assessment

Why

Intervention

Checking on medical conditions, documents

To check for red flags or precautions

Referring to doctor for further checking if necessary

Interviewing family and the elderly on 

  • Present and past medical/injury history
  • Elderly’s previous activity level before sickness
  • Any complaint of pain or discomfort

To understand the factors which may affect the elderly’s strength and mobility level

Planning what relevant items to assess during the physical examination

Range of motion

To check for joint stiffness or contracture

Mobilization exercises

Strength

To check for muscle weakness

Strengthening exercises

Neurological Test

To check for any signs of nerve irritation or compression

Exercises and manual techniques to reduce nerve irritation or reduce compression while the elderly continue with the medication prescribed by the doctor if the condition is mild; referring to the doctor to check if the disease is severe

Balance

To prepare the elderly for safe transfer and ambulation

Balance exercises

Daily Activities, e.g. walking, stair climbing, etc.

To assess the movement pattern

Functional training

Walking Speed

To prepare the elderly for safe ambulation in the community

Conditioning exercises, progressive power training

Auscultation

To check for air entry in the lung and any secretion in the lung/airway

Breathing exercises, chest physiotherapy

The physiotherapist will suggest what exercise equipment your loved one would need after the assessment. 

Can I help in my loved one’s home physiotherapy program?

Yes.

Examples of how you can contribute include but are not limited to:

  • Supervising the elderly during balance exercises;
  • Fetching the exercise equipment for the less mobile elderly;
  • Bringing the elderly out for some sun regularly (on foot or in a wheelchair);
  • Having the elderly do light self-care activities during the recovery period instead of offering full assistance. Examples of such activities are wiping the face, combing hair and cleaning the table after a meal;
  • Words of encouragement.

If you cannot take the time to shadow the physiotherapist during the home physiotherapy session, you can communicate with her over phone call/Whatsapp on the particular aspects of how you can help your loved ones.

Any other tips for improving the strength and mobility of my loved ones?

Consistency is the key!

It is scientifically known that bone healing, muscle growth, nerve repair and motor learning take time. Only through regular sets and reps over time will these tissues and systems grow and adapt in the desired manner for functional movements good enough to regain maximum independence possible. Therefore, be it frequent physiotherapy sessions or a few home exercises daily assisted by the caregiver, keeping your loved ones frequently moving by the advice and prescription by the physiotherapist will go a long way to recovery. 

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