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Rehabilitation in the Age of COVID 19

January 25, 2021

Published In All About Seniors Winter/Spring 2021 Edition


It’s been a long year, we have had to alter our normal activities, have limited family contact and we have all sat down to watch many movies to pass the time.!

As a result, many seniors have lost their endurance for regular activities of daily life – even walking around the grocery store can seem exhausting after restricting your activity for so long. With a lack of endurance, overall balance and strength can deteriorate and lead to slips, trips and falls.

If you have any signs of decreased balance, a sore joint or frequent falls you need to pursue an evaluation with a Physical or Occupational Therapist to help you recover. So how do you do this in the “Age of Covid”?

Before Covid you would have an appointment with a doctor who would send you to an out patient clinic close to home. The outpatient clinics have lots of policies in place to keep you safe from COVID. However, some folks are uncomfortable being such a public place and would rather stay home. Your Doctor can also refer you to Home Health Services where a Therapist will come to your home. However, new Medicare regulations can limit how long you can have these visits, and typically the home Therapist will discontinue the service if you are physically able to go to an outpatient clinic.

So, what else can you do? Well – you can choose to pay “out of pocket” for a Private Therapist to come to your house. These providers have services available that can help you recover and prevent falls in the future. Since they are private companies and generally do not take insurance, you can benefit from their services as long as you need to.

In general, prevention is the better option. Once you have been cleared by your physician, just a regular walking program can be of enormous benefit. The risk of infection is lower if you are outside and you can also benefit from the fresh air. Walking with a friend or neighbor can help you stay on track and pass the time. Start out slow and build up your tolerance safely.

So how much physical activity should I do? According to the CDC, (1) seniors need to move more and sit less!

“As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at all. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.

Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely. When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.”

There are a number of resources available on this website with a focus on seniors.

Reach out to your Physician or a private agency to see how they can help you! Happy Walking!

Reference: (1)     Accessed 10/28/2020

Disclaimer: Advice offered in this article is not a replacement of a Physical or Occupational Therapy Evaluation and is shared as general guidelines. Always consult a Physician before embarking on any exercise program.

Alison Starkey PT MBA MHA CAPS CFPS CDP, is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 33 years of experience in a variety of rehabilitation settings. Alison is a certified “Aging in Place Specialist”, “Certified Dementia Practitioner” and a ”Certified Fall Prevention Specialist” – one of the first in North Carolina! Gaitway provides a 360-degree evaluation of the client and their surroundings and serves to identify how to make the environment safe for “Aging in Place”. Gaitway also provides private duty Physical and Occupational Therapy to adults in their homes, avoiding placement and helping them thrive safely into their late retirement.

William Sweezy