Many times, women—more specifically, the oldest daughters in the family—are the primary decision makers when it comes to health decisions for aging parents. While making these important health decisions can be difficult, most caregivers don’t realize that physical therapy can be an excellent treatment option for aging parents—especially for those with neurological illnesses.
“Caring for your aging parent can be a tricky situation,” explains Amy Johnson, PT, OCS, COMT. “While you want to help and support them during their time of need, and provide them with the best treatment options possible. It can be hard to truly understand their discomfort.”
Whether your parent is struggling from Parkinson’s disease, or is recovering from a stroke, physical therapy can offer your parent the support and guidance they need during this difficult stage in their life. By utilizing stress reduction techniques and prompting them to talk about their struggles, physical therapy can provide them with the emotional and physical support they need.
“Switching the roles, and having the child care for the parent, is an emotional and difficult time,” explains Johnson. “Sometimes, it is better to seek help from a neutral third party, who can help you and your family decide the next best steps by looking at the situation as a whole—rather than looking at the situation from an emotional standpoint.”
When caring for your parent, preventing falls is the most important step to take. Ensuring their home is well lit, free of falling hazards—like area rugs or cords—and is easily accessible, are all great steps to take to help prevent falls and reduce the risk of further injury. Installing handrails or an elevated toilet seat in the bathroom are great preventative measures to take, as well. Plus, it will allow your parent to feel more independent and less dependent on your family for help.
“Don’t forget, that as a primary caregiver, it is very important to take care of yourself and your personal well-being,” explains Johnson. “In order to be a good support system you need to support yourself, as well. This means taking time out of each day to do the things you like to do—or even spending a few minutes alone to catch your breath.”
Rock Valley Physical Therapy Neurological rehabilitation therapists treat:
- Physical Impairments as a Result of Stroke or Spinal Cord Injury
- Loss Of Function Due to Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis
- Issues Pertaining to Prosthetic and Orthotic Use
- Disorders From Medical Complications or Trauma
- Balance and Gait Disorders
- Vestibular Dysfunction