Among many other important aging in place observance during the month of October, this month is “Physical Therapy Month.” This annual celebration comes six months after April’s observance of National Occupational Therapy Month. Both specialties are important for helping us deliver effective aging in place solutions for our clients.
The physical therapists, or PTs, are an integral part of creating successful aging in place environments for people in their homes, whether those people have found the home they want to remain in long-term or it’s just the home they are in at the moment.
Along with the OTs (occupational therapists) and other healthcare professionals (HCPs) and related disciplines such as social workers, PTs understand how people move and get around in their space and any challenges that their homes might present to them in their recovery and long-term utilization of their living environment.
Additionally, they are able to evaluate that space and offer reasonable solutions for modifying and adapting those living environments to be safer and more effective for the occupants.
In celebrating the service of physical therapists this month, it’s the perfect time to call attention to the Certified Aging In Place Specialist (“CAPS”) training and designation program that educates and equips those who participate with additional knowledge on how to work with people of varying needs and requirements in their homes.
Any PT or PTA (Physical Therapy Assistant) – or other HCP – should seriously consider getting the CAPS training (especially now that it is expanding) for an additional understanding of this market and to be able to help people create the solutions they need to live in their homes successfully. At the end of this month, the new CAPS III class will be available to provide more solutions-based opportunities for CAPS students to evaluate more needs-specific situations and discover solutions for them.
An HCP is vital for designing solutions for the aging in place client that has some type of mobility, sensory, or cognitive impairment – or when someone’s age (even without obvious issues) suggests that the prudent approach is to consider a design that incorporates the possibility of limited mobility, vision, hearing, touch, or other concerns in the future.
Working alongside contractors, designers, durable medical equipment providers, equipment specialists, architects, construction trades, and other professionals, HCPs, such as OTs and PTs, are able to make sure that the clients’ needs are accommodated – and not just adjusting the physical setting of the home (although this is an important aspect of the overall aging in place picture).
Since many people have moderate to serious limitations with how they can use their homes in terms of mobility, reach, range of motion, balance, grip, navigation, and maneuverability, these issues need to be addressed to allow them to function better in their homes. They want their homes to be a safe refuge for them and to provide the comfort, enjoyment, and accessibility they desire and deserve.
We have the opportunity to make that happen, and PTs have a very important part to play in this. This is not just a US issue. People in Canada and around the globe are desiring to stay in their homes as they age. People like their homes, they have scores or memories and memorabilia there, and the expense and effort required to move to a care institution are not appealing to most of them.
We can help people remain in their present homes by evaluating those living spaces and suggesting necessary and reasonable improvements that can be made within a budget that they can fund. This will enhance the quality of life and help keep them safe as they continue to live and age in those homes they enjoy.
It’s not appropriate for a contractor to advise clients on potential improvements when there are medical issues or concerns involved because they simply don’t have the background, training, or insight to be able to determine the extent of what is going on or how those issues might change over time. The HCP, such as the PT, is such an important ally to the contractor for these situations.
PTs and other healthcare professionals are an important part of the aging in place delivery system, and it’s great that we can celebrate their profession and the contributions they make this month.