Healthcare Insider Blog

Doctor of physical therapy career spotlight: Geriatric care

  • Healthcare Alvernia

Physical therapy means increased mobility and improvement in overall quality of life. And depending on the population you’re serving, it may mean the difference between whether or not a patient can continue living on their own or must rely on the care of friends, family or assisted living facilities.

Doctors of physical therapy working with the geriatric population provide patients with the tools to live as independently and comfortably as possible.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) most recently recorded National Study of Long-Term Care Providers, nine million people utilized long-term care service providers in the year 2014. These long-term care facilities include adult day service centers, home health agencies, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other similar residential care communities.

In addition, The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimates that by the year 2050 approximately 27 million people will need some type of long-term care.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) outlines the importance of senior citizens keeping an active lifestyle, and that staying physically active can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities.

The NIH explains, “Lack of physical activity also can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.”

While the geriatric population can benefit greatly from physical therapy, DPTs also see many benefits working in that setting. From a flexible schedule to an opportunity to build relationships with patients who will most likely be with you for extended periods of time, a career in geriatric physical therapy can be very rewarding.

Geriatric care jobs require a lot of patience and great motivational skills. In addition, many patients in this population have a long medical history of impairments and injuries, so you will have the added challenge of taking both past and present injuries into account when designing a treatment plan.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists working in geriatric care are among some of the highest paid in the field, with a median annual average wage of $89,000 for those working in continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly, $91,480 for those working in skilled nursing facilities, and $96,560 for those working in home health care services.

Those enrolled in Alvernia University’s DPT program will take courses like DPT 501: Development Through the Lifespan, which lays the foundation for physical therapy practice from infancy well into old age. The course covers realistic goal setting for physical therapy clients of particular age groups, including geriatrics.

Watch the video below of a physical therapist working in a skilled nursing facility as he shares some of the challenges, rewards, and daily routines that come with working alongside geriatric patients.

Effective November 12, 2014, Alvernia University has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314; phone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org). Candidacy is not an accreditation status nor does it assure eventual accreditation. Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates the program is progressing toward accreditation.

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