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What Does a Physical Therapist Do for Adults in a Nursing Home?

Caregiver guiding senior through exercise ball routine while performing nursing home physical therapist duties

Physical therapy (PT) is an essential aspect of healthcare for older adults. With aging, our bodies undergo numerous changes that can lead to physical conditions that limit mobility. Physical therapy for seniors can identify and address these issues. Nursing home physical therapist duties encompass a range of services that can improve the health and quality of life for seniors. 

Buckner Villas is a non-profit senior living community in Austin, TX, offering the complete continuum of care for seniors 62 and older. We understand the challenges of aging. Our dedicated, compassionate staff provides top-quality care for our residents in a safe, secure, home-like environment with access to various services and amenities. Call 512.580.9882 to learn more about physical therapy for seniors.  

A Look at Senior Physical Therapist Responsibilities 

Within a nursing home setting, physical therapists work with residents with physical disabilities or limitations resulting from injuries, surgeries, acute illnesses, chronic health conditions, or general aging. Some specific senior physical therapist responsibilities include the following:  

  • Conducting assessments to evaluate a resident’s abilities, limitations, and needs 
  • Developing individualized treatment plans  
  • Implementing and guiding residents through exercises, stretches, and other therapeutic interventions 
  • Assisting residents with the proper use of equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes, or grab bars 
  • Monitoring progress and adjusting treatment as needed 
  • Educating residents and family members on strategies for preventing falls, managing pain, and improving mobility 
  • Collaborating with other members of the healthcare team to ensure comprehensive treatment 
  • Documenting progress and communicating findings to the healthcare team and families 

The primary goal of senior physical therapists in a nursing home is to help residents regain mobility to achieve the highest level of independent functioning possible. However, physical therapists also provide the encouragement and emotional support critical to assisting residents in working through the challenges of their physical therapy program.  

What Are the Types of Physical Therapy for Seniors? 

Depending on individual needs and conditions, several types of physical therapy can benefit seniors. The following is a brief description of standard physical therapy approaches: 

  • Geriatric physical therapy – This type of PT is specifically designed for seniors and focuses on increasing balance and overall strength to reduce the risk of falls and improve gross physical functioning. 
  • Orthopedic physical therapy – Ortho PT is designed to treat injuries to the musculoskeletal system and help recover from surgeries, arthritis, osteoporosis, or general joint pain. 
  • Cardiopulmonary physical therapy – PT for seniors with heart or lung conditions, designed to improve endurance and breathing capacity. 
  • Neurological physical therapy – For seniors with a stroke or neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s or dementia, this type of PT helps individuals adapt to and accommodate for impairments that interfere with completing activities of daily living (ADLs).  
  • Aquatic physical therapy – The buoyancy of water reduces joint stress, making this form of PT particularly beneficial for seniors with arthritis and other joint problems.  

Often, residents can benefit from a combination of physical therapy approaches to receive the best outcomes.

Expected Benefits of Physical Therapy for Seniors 

Physical therapists undergo extensive education and training. They understand how the body moves and how systems within the body, including the neurological, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems, impact physical functioning and mobility. 

No matter the reason for needing physical therapy, expected benefits can include the following: 

  • Decreased risk of falls 
  • Increased strength 
  • Improved mobility 
  • Better balance and coordination 
  • Reduced pain and improved ability to manage pain 
  • Decreased reliance on medications 
  • Improved cardiovascular functioning 
  • Faster recovery from injury, illness, or surgery 

Overall, physical therapy for seniors helps them stay active and engaged in their communities, maintain their highest level of independence, and improve their quality of life.  

Contact Buckner Villas to Learn More About Physical Therapy for Seniors 

Buckner Villas provides safe, secure senior living in a welcoming, home-like environment where residents live as independently as possible, with 24-hour access to care and support. Our low staff-to-resident ratio means that each of our residents is known on a personal level and receives individualized care. Contact Buckner Villas at 512.580.9882 or complete our online form to learn more about our programs, including physical therapy for seniors.