How to convince elderly parents to take physiotherapy sessions: Answers to physio questions

physiotherapy for parents in India

How many times have you recommended physiotherapy to your elderly parents and they told you…

1. “Physiotherapy does not work”
2. “It is the same exercises for every session, why should I pay for this?”
3. “I can learn it from YouTube or from a friend”

With this article, ParentCare hopes to clear the basic misconceptions so that you can convince your parents to take the right decision. We roped in Dr. Aarthi Reddy, a physiotherapist from Hyderabad and our partner doctor, to answer some frequently asked questions about physio.

physiotherapy doctor from hyderabad

Dr. Aarthi has an experience of more than 15 years as a physiotherapist working in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata with brands such as Apollo Hospitals, Portea and Kites Geriatic Centre. She has a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from Goutham College of Physiotherapy, Bengaluru, a PG certificate from London Academy of Sports & Health Sciences and a Fellowship Diploma in Geriatrics Rehabilitation.

1. What does a physiotherapist do?

Physiotherapy involves a range of interventions, services like exercise therapy, electrotherapy, manipulation, mobilisation, and advice. It’s all aimed at restoring, maintaining and improving people’s function and movement and thereby maximising the quality of their lives.

Physiotherapists combine their knowledge and skills to identify an individual patient’s functioning needs and improve a broad range of physical problems associated with different systems of the body:

  • Neuromuscular (brain and nervous system) 
  • Musculoskeletal (soft tissues, joints and bones), 
  • Cardiovascular 
  • Respiratory systems (heart and lungs and associated physiology).

Physiotherapists are not only there to solve problems but also to prevent them. A physiotherapist can help you find the best way to use your body to maximise your strengths, eliminate bad habits and put minimal strain on weaker areas, to help you enjoy a more full and healthy life.

2. Why is physiotherapy more important for the elderly?

The number of elderly people is increasing globally. Changes in medical, social, and economic factors have resulted in longer life. However, a longer life expectancy doesn’t necessarily mean that people’s bodies have evolutionised to deal with it.

The most common causes of death above age 65 are: 

  • Heart diseases
  • Malignant neoplasms
  • Cerebrospinal vascular diseases
  • Chronic Respiratory diseases

A physiotherapist plays a very important role in helping with all the above, getting patients back to near normal life style. Physiotherapy cannot stop ageing, it can help to reduce the impact that it has on our bodies and lives. 

3. How can physiotherapy assist active adults?

As we age, our body goes through many physical, physiological and mental changes. The common age-related issues would be: reduced bone density, reduced muscle strength, balance and coordination issues, and stiffness in the joints. A physiotherapist can design a basic exercise programme for maintaining the range, strength and balance, which can be done individually or in groups.

4. Can a physiotherapist help me online during the pandemic?

Considering the global scenario, many medical treatments and consultations have moved online. Physio is not an exception, it can totally be done online at your convenient time. Your doctor will do the assessment and share a treatment plan with you.

5. When should I go see a physiotherapist?

When there is any symptoms of the conditions we mentioned above or any of the following:

  • Acute or chronic pain
  • Any ligament, muscle injuries, hip and knee replacements
  • Neuro issues, cardio problems or respiratory issues
  • Sports or postural injuries
  • Or when you want to improve your strength and fitness levels.

6. Is physiotherapy necessary? Does it work?

It definitely works and you will see the results in due course. However, unlike simply taking a Paracetamol pill to reduce the temperature short-term, physiotherapy treats the root cause of an issue and therefore requires a longer-term approach. It needs regular follow-ups to maintain the condition, and improve the strength and balance.

Physio can definitely fix your problems (unless it’s a degenerative condition). It can also eliminate your pain completely. To avoid recurring issues, you need to practice it regularly, follow the guidelines from your doctor and stay in touch with them.

7. How long does physio take and how frequent should my sessions be?

The treatment depends on the condition of the patient, it might be a minimum of 3 sessions to 1 month sessions. In post-surgical or neurological cases it could take much longer. As per the frequency, we would normally recommend around three times a week.

8. I researched my condition on the internet and found some youtube videos that promise to eliminate my pain. Should I do these exercises?

YouTube and Google are great for research but your exercising routine needs to come from a reliable source. Ideally, you should consult with your GP or physiotherapist first, and then you can continue doing your exercises independently.  

9. Why do some of the exercises make me sore?

Some mobilisation and manipulation techniques might cause you a bit of pain initially, which is only during the course of the treatment. If you join any gym or start going to yoga classes, your muscles are likely to be painful in the same way until you get used to it. Your physiotherapist might recommend you to use cold packs, hot packs and dolo to reduce pain. 

If you have any other questions, please comment below and we will do our best to answer them. If you’d like to book a physiotherapy consultation for your parents or relatives, please contact us via the WhatsApp button in the bottom right corner.

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