Aquatic Therapy For Parkinson’s Disease: Let’s Dive In

You face challenges every day when you live with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Which means you’re already stronger than you realize. Because your life’s not defined by your mobility deficits; it’s made whole by the steps you take to manage them. Test the waters with aquatic therapy, and you can do more than just build strength and improve your balance — you can maintain long-term independence and improve your overall quality of life.

Now, before we wade deeper into all of the benefits of aquatic therapy for Parkinson’s Disease, let’s cover the definitions for those who aren’t familiar with PD or Aquatic Therapy.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease of the nervous system that affects movement. In other words: It’s a brain disorder that manifests physically. Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease can include shaking, stiffness, walking difficulties, and balance and coordination issues.

What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy is a specialized type of physical therapy. It usually takes place in a temperature-controlled pool while working one-on-one with a licensed practitioner. Aquatic therapy covers a wide range of water-based therapeutic techniques and exercises for relaxation, fitness, and rehabilitation.

Ok, let’s take a closer look at how water therapy can work as a treatment for Parkinson’s.

5 Amazing Ways Aquatic Therapy Helps Parkinson’s Patients:

  • Reduce your risk (and fear) of falling. 
    Stumbles and falls are a genuine concern when you’re managing Parkinson’s symptoms. That’s why water-based activities are so beneficial. Because the fear of falling melts away when you’re in the pool. So you can complete a wide variety of low-impact exercises with very minimal risk.
  • Allow buoyancy to wash away pain.
    Water’s natural buoyancy decreases the effects of gravity, which means your body weight is reduced by 75-90%. That’s an incredible amount of relief for weak and sore muscles. Plus, you can move with greater ease in the pool. You can make bigger movements and conserve more energy. This is particularly helpful if you struggle with fatigue or want to alleviate pain.
  • Build strength with water’s natural resistance.
    Forget about heavy dumbbells or clunky machines. Let the water’s turbulence be your training tool. The way the water moves, and the currents and flows it creates, provides proper resistance for every plane of motion. This kind of environment challenges your balance and coordination skills — prompting your core muscles to engage so you can build strength and improve posture.
  • Soak in the warmth to relax your muscles.
    Warm water is a marvelous medium for muscle therapy. Soothing temperatures help minimize rigidity, stiffness, and pain so you can increase your flexibility and boost blood circulation. This kind of relaxation can ultimately help reduce swelling and tremors.
  • Engage your body and your brain.
    While the symptoms of Parkinson’s are largely physical, the disease itself is based in the brain, so it’s important that you engage both body and mind. The simple act of stepping into a pool can spark joy and promote relaxation. Plus, water-based workouts trigger the release of endorphins (those delightful anti-stress hormones that produce a positive sense of wellbeing).

Find Your Partner in Parkinson’s Physical Therapy with Ageility When you live with PD, building a great support system is everything — from finding the right doctor to engaging family and friends on your journey. It also means finding a therapy partner you can trust, one with the expertise to support your unique neurological condition and physical symptoms. This is where Ageility’s Partner in Parkinson’s Program can really make an impact in your life. Several of our clinics are located in senior living communities with on-site pools, so you can dive in and experience the benefits of Aquatic Therapy for yourself. Find an Ageility clinic near you to learn more.

What’s Your Why For Senior Fitness and Rehab?

The path to senior health and wellness isn’t always a straight line. It’s ever changing, complete with plenty of bumps, curves, stops, and starts. Even when you feel young at heart, your body doesn’t always cooperate. It can sometimes slow down just when you’re ready to rev up. So when it comes to reaching your rehab and fitness goals as an older adult, there’s power in finding your why.

4 Tips To Find Your Senior Wellness Why

Inspiration. Aspiration. Motivation. Your why is your reason to take action. Your core driver to achieve your senior fitness and wellness goal (or set of goals). It ignites you and fuels your desire to get stronger and live healthier. So how do you find it? And how do you hold on to it? Here are four tips to help you get started on your path to senior health and wellness.

  1. Look inward to move forward.
    There’s no one-size-fits-all motivator when it comes to senior fitness and rehab, which means the key to finding your specific why is to dig deep. Think about what matters most to you. Ask yourself some questions: Why do I want to get stronger? Am I missing out on doing things I love because I don’t feel my best? What brings me the most joy in life? Identifying your why can prompt powerful emotions, all of which will help motivate you to take action toward your senior health and fitness goals. Here’s a great exercise to try:

    I want to _______________, so I can _______________.

    For example… I want to get stronger, so I can get back on the golf course. I want to stay active, so I can keep up with my grandkids. I want to get in better shape, so I can stay independent. I want to rehab my hip, so I can rejoin my walking club. I want to feel steady on my feet, so I can enjoy more outings and trips.

  2. Write it down, so you can live it up.
    The simple act of writing down your senior fitness goals can help turn thoughts into actions. It can connect you to what you’re truly thinking. Which can help shift how you feel — and how you show up in life. In other words: Pen and paper make powerful tools when it comes to senior fitness and rehab. By writing down your why, you can reach new depths of self-discovery. And once your why is on paper, post it somewhere you can easily read it every day.
  3. Find strength in staying the course.
    Working towards your senior wellness why is a journey. Which means it needs to be sustainable. So ask the question: Is your why strong enough to help keep you on the healthy-living track, even when the road gets rough? Because bumps along the way are to be expected. That’s part of life. But when your why is strong, so is your resolve to stay on track.
  4. See yourself succeeding.
    Once you know your senior wellness why, it’s time to bring it to life in your mind. Visualize yourself doing what you love, with the people you love most. Picture yourself back on the golf course. Imagine yourself walking the deck on your cruise ship. Envision yourself on a picnic with your grandkids. Surround yourself with images that connect you emotionally to your why. This will help remind you of who you want to be and what you’re working toward.

Remember: You’re chasing a feeling, not a finish line. Have faith in your own strength. Believe in your potential. Get inspired with Senior Fitness 101: Tips for Staying Active as an Older Adult. And start asking yourself: What’s my why?

Find your why with a senior fitness and rehab partner.

Your wellness journey is deeply personal, but you don’t have to go it alone. Ageility is here to support you every step of the way — whether you need specialized rehab services or are looking for senior fitness classes near you. We’re your partner on the path to healthy senior living. And we’ve got your back. Find an Ageility clinic near you to start working towards your why right now.

Senior Fitness 101: Tips for Staying Active as an Older Adult

It’s no secret that consistent exercise plays a huge role in helping seniors live healthier, longer and more independent lives. The benefits are life-changing, but finding the motivation to get moving each day doesn’t get any easier as we get older.

One of the biggest obstacles to getting started with a senior fitness routine is the term “exercise” itself. For some, the word exercise is associated with pain and discomfort. Once you start thinking of exercise as encompassing all forms of “movement,” though, the whole idea of staying active changes—and becomes way more fun. What once may have seemed like something you just did in gym class or for sports practice when you were young can now be done by anyone, of any age or skill level.

Whether it’s pickleball, gardening, or just taking your pup out for a walk around the neighborhood, there are lots of easy and effective ways to incorporate movement into your active senior lifestyle. Not sure where to start in your senior fitness journey?

Here are five tips to help you get motivated to make movement a habit this year and beyond.

1. Make Senior Fitness a Priority

Many of us lead busy lives, and it’s easy to put physical activity at the bottom of the “to do” list. Remember, though, being active is one of the most important things you can do each day to maintain and improve your health. Make it a point to include physical activities throughout your day. Try being active first thing in the morning before you get busy. Think of your time to exercise as a special appointment and mark it on your calendar.

2. Make It Easy to Stay Active

If it’s difficult, costs too much, or is too inconvenient, you probably won’t be active. When it comes to senior fitness, as with any age, you are more likely to exercise if it’s easy to do. Put your two-pound weights next to your easy chair so you can do some lifting while you watch TV or walk up and down the soccer field during your grandchild’s game. When you go out to get the mail, go for a walk around the block. Or consider joining a gym or senior fitness center that’s close to home. You can be active all at once or break it up into smaller amounts throughout the day—just keep moving.

Whatever sort of senior fitness regimen you choose, be sure it incorporates these four types of exercise recommended for older adults:

Senior Fitness Exercises – Four Key Types of Exercise for Older Adults
Endurance Try to build up to at least 30 minutes of activity that leaves you breathing hard. You can do it in 10-minute increments, you can do it 3-5 times a week. Start low and slow and increase duration and energy level as you get more fit.
Strength Everything you do requires muscles: getting up from a chair, lifting a grandchild, carrying groceries are all things you’d like to be able to do without needing assistance. Keeping your muscles in shape keeps you independent.
Balance Falls are the leading cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths among seniors. Incorporating balance exercises into your senior fitness routine is crucial for safety. Practicing standing on one foot and walking heel to toe can help you improve your balance.
Flexibility Stretching is something you can do anytime and anywhere. Stretch your arms, legs, neck, and back. You’ll find it easier to tie your shoes, look over your shoulder when backing out of the driveway, and reach for things whether they’re on a high shelf or the ground.

3. Make Senior Exercise Safe

Moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, is safe for almost all older adults. Even so, avoiding injury is an important thing to keep in mind, especially if you’re just starting a new activity or you haven’t been active for a long time. Talk to your doctor if you have an ongoing health condition or certain other health problems or if you haven’t seen your doctor for a while.

Ask how physical activity can help you, whether you should avoid certain activities, and how to modify exercises to fit your situation. You may feel some minor discomfort or muscle soreness when you start to exercise. This should go away as you get used to the activities; however, if you feel sick to your stomach or have strong pain, you’ve done too much. Go easier and then gradually build up. Consider working with a senior physical trainer like an Ageility Fitness specialist to help guide you in your progression.

4. Make It Social

Maintaining an active senior lifestyle is so much easier when you’re not doing it alone. Enlist a friend or family member. Many people agree that having an “exercise buddy” keeps them going. Take a yoga class with a neighbor. If you don’t already have an exercise partner, find one by joining a walking club at your local mall or take a walk during lunch with a co-worker.

5. Make It Interesting and Fun

To help you feel motivated and excited to maintain a senior fitness routine, do things you enjoy and pick up the pace a bit. If you love the outdoors, try biking, fishing, jogging or hiking. Listen to music or a book on CD while walking, gardening or raking. Most people tend to focus on one activity or type of exercise and think they’re doing enough. The goal is to be creative and choose exercises from each of the four categories—endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Mixing it up will help you reap the benefits of each type of exercise, as well as reduce boredom and risk of injury.

The Ageility Difference — Older adult fitness catered to you

Whether you’re just getting started toward a more active lifestyle or have been active your whole life, sometimes taking the next step can be daunting, especially when you’re going it alone. Ageility rehab and senior fitness specialists are here to help. Whether your goal is competing in the National Senior Games or playing catch with grandkids, Ageility’s older adult fitness training plans are tailored to help you reach your highest possible level of fitness, and have fun doing it. Work with your Ageility Team to create a movement practice you can do safely and enjoy. Find an Ageility clinic near you to learn more.

Not Your Typical “Athlete”

How one senior athlete is redefining the term, one step at a time

Hugh “Mac” McCaffrey jokes that it takes a very generous definition of “athlete” to consider him one. The 78-year-old resident of The Forum at Deer Creek doesn’t play sports, isn’t on any teams and would much rather go for a walk than run. Yet, this May, he’ll be Ageility’s sponsored athlete at the National Senior Games, competing in two powerwalking events—the 1,500-meter sprint and 5K distance race. That’s because Mac has the most important thing one needs to be an athlete at any age: a passion for an active lifestyle.

“I don’t consider myself to be a sterling example of anything,” he says. “I enjoy what I do.”

The making of a senior athlete – the importance of passion over talent

The term “athlete” may at first bring to mind sports legends like Michael Jordan, Billie Jean King or Muhammad Ali. Speed, endurance, strength…all are pillars of what we consider the greatest athletes of all time. For many of us, though, it can feel like being an athlete is something unattainable and for the few lucky enough to have the talent and training. Long before his journey to becoming a senior athlete, Mac felt the same way looking up to the “athletes” in his high school. “I see these guys and I was never quite ever going to be on the same level as they were,” he says. “These guys were a step above, a step faster, reaction time was a millisecond faster.”

Over time, though, Mac realized that while these athletes had talent, they had the “same fears and hang ups we all have.” What was most important to being a senior athlete, or an athlete at any age, he learned, wasn’t whether you bested the competition; it was about finding an activity you enjoy and taking that first step. For Mac, it’s going for long walks several times a day, but it could be anything that gets you up and moving.

“I’m not really in any kind of shape to be doing anything,” he says. “I don’t enjoy running, but I do enjoy walking. I was encouraged to compete in the Senior Games, and I thought, why not? It sounds fun.”

Exercising for its own sake: senior fitness and wellness

Another key aspect of being an athlete at any age, but especially a senior athlete, is regular exercise. Mac says that looks a lot different now than when he was young. Back then, he says you got exercise by signing up to play a sport and going to practice, not by going on walks. The goal of exercise, he says, was to compete. It wasn’t until several decades later that his son and granddaughters taught him that exercise—and in turn being an athlete—didn’t require a coach. Anyone could do it.

“When I was a kid, you played outside and that was your activity,” he says. “Once you stopped doing competitive sports, you stopped exercising. But now all six of my grandchildren do some sort of physical activity. My oldest granddaughter has been working out since she was seven. Exercise now…it’s about keeping moving.”

Making “athlete” accessible for anyone

Mac is a competitive guy, but he says he’s not feeling the pressure to win gold against the top senior athletes from across the country. What’s most important, he says, is to have fun, make his community proud and show that the “athlete” umbrella is a lot bigger than you might think. Whether you prefer walking, water aerobics, pickleball or all the above, it’s dedication and a passion for movement that matters most. Who knows? Maybe next year, you’ll be a senior athlete competing at the Senior Games.

“If anybody has reservations about doing the senior games, I would say go for it,” says Mac. “What do you have to lose? If I do well, super. If I do badly, will I be embarrassed? Maybe a little bit. But at the end of the day, I don’t owe anybody any money and I have had an enjoyable experience.”

How to keep up with Mac and reach your senior fitness goals

The National Senior Games may still be several months off, but you can follow Mac’s journey and training routine every step of the way. To learn more about how Ageility Fitness can help you become an athlete at any age like Mac, visit or find an Ageility location near you

How to Manage Winter Arthritis Pain

There’s a lot to look forward to when winter rolls around—hot cocoa by the fire, putting up holiday decorations, reuniting with family…it’s truly a magical time of year. If you’re one of the 50 million people in the US with arthritis, though, the colder weather can take a toll on your joints and keep you from the activities you love because of arthritis pain.

Here’s the good news: Whether you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, there’s lots you can do to manage arthritis pain so you can get right back to building a snowman with the grandkids. One of the best strategies for managing arthritis in the winter is getting personalized treatment from innovative physical therapy providers like Ageility Rehab and Fitness. Just a few lifestyle changes at home, though, can also make a big impact. Here are seven easy and effective remedies that can help soothe arthritis pain and make your winter more active and comfortable.

7 Ways to Reduce Winter Arthritis Pain

  1. Bundle up: Cold is a common trigger for aching and swelling joints, so keeping yourself warm by layering up on clothes—particularly pain centers like your hands, knees and legs—is key to raising your body temperature and reducing joint pain.
  2. Check your vitamin D: During the winter months, many older adults stay inside. A lack of exposure to sunlight increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency. When you are deficient in vitamin D, it can lead to joint pain and aching muscles. Talk with your primary care physician about the need for a vitamin D screening.
  3. Stay active: When it’s cold outside and you are experiencing arthritis pain, the last thing you might want to do is exercise. But one of the best ways to keep joints working is to use them. Consider exercises like tai chi, yoga and swimming, especially if you have access to a heated therapy pool. You’ll benefit from both the heat and the no-impact exercise.
  4. Eat smart: Your diet can play a role in managing arthritis symptoms too. Some foods can increase swelling, which can raise pain levels, while other foods can fight inflammation. Cherries, berries, grapes, cabbage, kale, spinach, and plums, combined with omega-3 rich foods like fish and nuts, can help decrease joint swelling. Also, try to avoid processed foods, sugary treats, and fast foods.
  5. Get more Vitamin C: There is growing research to indicate that foods high in vitamin C may be linked to an increase in new collagen production. Collagen is a critical component of cartilage, which is often damaged as arthritis worsens. Bell pepper, citrus fruits, cauliflower, cherries, and strawberries may be good additions to your diet.
  6. Try heated paraffin dips: Try giving your hands and feet a dip in heated paraffin wax. Salons and spas usually offer this service. If you prefer to do it at home, kits are less than $30. You could also try heated lavender slippers and gloves. These can be warmed up in the microwave and used repeatedly.
  7. Drink green tea: The benefits of green tea are numerous—one of which is blocking chemicals in the body that are believed to cause inflammation. Green tea may also prevent cartilage from further damage due to arthritis.

Treating Arthritis: Why Physical Therapy is Key

Following these seven tips may be able to help relieve arthritis symptoms, but if joint pain persists or gets worse, it’s time to start looking for a more tailored treatment plan. Physical therapy addresses your specific aches and pains so you can get back to tossing snowballs at the grandkids without flare-ups slowing you down. Ageility’s team of licensed physical therapists are trained in arthritis pain management and work with you to develop a treatment plan that relieves pain and swelling and restores muscle balance around the affected joints, without the need for medication.

Reduce Arthritis Pain and Reach Your Goals with Ageility

Whether you want to shovel snow ache-free, or wrap presents without sore and swelling joints, working with a physical therapist and making a few changes to your lifestyle can help make winter less painful, and more joyful. To learn more about Ageility’s physical therapy services, contact Ageility at [email protected] for more info or search for an Ageility location near you.

How Innovative Rehab Helped a Navy Veteran Regain Independence

Something was different at the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy in 1974. Or rather, someone. The change was most apparent during a session where every officer was gathered. When the speaker got up to give his normal greeting, he noticed that this time, for the first time, he’d have to expand it a bit. “Good morning gentlemen…and lady,” he said.

That odd woman out was Jean Neely, a US Navy captain and the first woman officer ever to attend the NATO Defense College. That was just one of many firsts Jean accomplished during her glass ceiling-shattering, 26-year career in the Navy, including being one of the first women selected for major command.

Then in 1976, after years of hard work and dedicated service to her country, Jean Neely was looking forward to a restful retirement. Yet, like many older adults, Jean’s minor aches and pains became more debilitating as she grew older. Eventually she was diagnosed with what she jokingly calls the “triple whammy”—Parkinson’s, osteoporosis and an autoimmune disease called myasthenia gravis. Then came the injuries: five joint replacements, several busted fingers and one shattered vertebra after a fall in her West Virginia home on Easter Sunday 2021.

“My doctor said I could go to the hospital or to rehab in assisted living,” she says, “and I didn’t want to go to the hospital.”

More Than Just Innovative Rehab Therapy: The Ageility Difference

In spring of 2021, Jean made a temporary move to an assisted living apartment in the Somerford House & Place Hagerstown senior living community and began physical therapy at the on-site Ageility Rehab & Fitness clinic. Jean says she had seen dozens of physical therapists over the years, but there was something different about Ageility’s that she noticed immediately.

“They know every one of the residents and interacted with them in a very friendly way,” she wrote in a testimonial about her experience. “I can honestly say that the Ageility group of therapists put any and all others I’ve known ‘in the shade’ with their professionalism and attention to their patients’ needs.”

Since Jean required the whole gamut of innovative therapy—occupational, physical and speech—Ageility’s continuum of care and wide range of specialized rehab and fitness services were key to helping her toward her ultimate goal: moving back home and regaining independence. Each therapist got her one step closer. One helped her enunciate words through the Big and Loud speech therapy that’s part of the LSVT program to the point where she can even say Mary Poppins’ “supercalifragilisIcexpialidocious” without skipping a beat. One of her favorite parts? “Everything was just down the hall. How easy is that?” she says.

Now, with her departure imminent after just five months, she says the whole experience blew away her expectations.

“I just assumed I was going to an institution,” she says, “I never realized that I would make friends and miss people when I left.”

An Extraordinary Recovery from an Extraordinary Veteran

Jean’s five-month recovery is just one in a long line of obstacles she’s overcome over the years. Though her Navy career was one marked by unforgettable experiences like her “absolutely fabulous” two-year stint in Morocco, overt sexism in the ranks (and in the law of the land) prevented her from ever serving aboard a Navy ship. She also saw her male counterparts get promoted at a faster rate, despite the same work. Yet, there was something about Jean that kept her going, in the face of all odds, to become one of only 12 women Navy captains in 1976. Now, there are hundreds.

“I’m just a very persistent person,” says Jean. “Sometimes I have to walk away from things for a while, but they always nag at me until I get them done.”

Jean Neely

Starting from the Bottom Rung

That nagging feeling also followed Jean around in her youth in the 1950s when she was searching for a career that would allow her to give back to the country she loved. In those days there was no Peace Corps, no VISTA, so Jean found a program in the Navy that would permit her to take her training during the summers and get her commission upon graduation from college.

Duty to the Stars and Stripes also played a huge role in family when she was growing up. Her father and both her brothers were part of the Greatest Generation who fought in World War II. So, after graduating from Bates College, she began her Navy career in 1953 in Seattle as an ensign.

“Ensign is the lowest form of life, with only one gold stripe on your sleeve,” jokes Jean.

Climbing the Ladder to Captain

It was slow-going, but Jean made an impression. At each Naval station she transferred to, she gained more responsibility as her male superiors learned that she didn’t just keep up with her male counterparts, she surpassed them. In 1956, Jean headed to Washington D.C. where she was promoted to Lieutenant, from there she proceeded to duty stations in Morocco, Maryland and promotion to Lieutenant Commander. In 1964, she headed for the US Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, graduating the next year with a Master of Science. She headed back to Washington where she met and married her husband. Moves to Memphis, Norfolk, and promotion to Captain, followed by Rome and then back to D.C. ensued, where she completed her career.

Jean says she would have loved to serve aboard a ship, but the law did not allow it at the time. She was selected to be the commanding officer of a major command in San Diego in 1974, but instead she opted to retire, so she and her husband could travel.

“The challenges in the Navy were so terrific; I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything,” she says.

A Remarkable Life, Recognized

Jean’s persistence and historic career are finally getting the recognition they deserve, and not just from her Ime in the Navy. After several years of travel, the Neely’s settled in eastern West Virginia, where Jean was able to expand her interests in the natural world. One of her interests was fulfilled when she founded the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, a chapter of the National Audubon Society, in 1982. Last year, the organization named a pavilion after her and declared her birthday, July 10, as Founder’s Day.

“I don’t think I’ve done anything very exceptional,” Jean says. What she has done, through countless challenges from rising through the ranks to recovering from injury, is persist. To Jean and all the veterans who have served over the years, we thank you for your service.

Discover the Ageility Difference and Get Back to the Life You Love

It’s amazing what a spirit of persistence and the help of an exceptional innovative rehab team can do. In just five months of Ageility Rehab & Fitness, Jean was able to regain her independence at age 90 and accomplish her goal of moving back home.

To discover how Ageility can help you reach your goals through a tailored treatment and fitness plan, find an Ageility clinic near you.

Physical Therapy for Seniors FAQs

Accidents happen. It could be a bad swing at the links, a wrong step during a morning jog or just a slip in the kitchen. Older individuals recovering from surgery, injuries or extended periods of little to no exercise are often more prone to injury or re-injury, particularly fall-related injuries due to struggles with strength and balance.

The words “physical therapy” likely bring up images of a long, painstaking process that’s only helpful for those in recovery. The most effective physical therapy, though, is both reactive and proactive. That’s why Ageility offers not just recovery interventions, but also prevention and fitness training in its clinics.

Prevention helps older adults avoid falls and other catastrophic events, while fitness training helps older adults stay active for as long as possible—even to the point of achieving goals they’ve had all their lives like running a marathon. Not sure if Ageility physical therapy is right for you or your loved one? These answers to five of the most common questions about physical therapy for seniors can help you make the most informed decision.

What does a physical therapist (PT) do?

Though PTs are sometimes confused for personal trainers, they do far more by helping you develop a plan of care to address injury, weakness and other movement impairment. PTs must be state-licensed to practice and most hold advanced degrees, including doctorates. That education allows them to determine the cause of problems and create customized treatment plans based on recovery or prevention. For seniors in the Ageility program, these might include orthopedic rehabilitation, strength training, aquatic therapy or arthritic pain management. No matter the treatment, Ageility’s physical therapists share: optimizing movement so clients can live life to the fullest.

How does physical therapy help seniors?

It doesn’t matter if you’re already in great shape or require rehabilitation after orthopedic surgery, physical therapy can help older adults maintain their independence for as long as possible. That’s because physical therapy is proven to help improve strength, balance, mobility and fitness in adults. A strong physical therapy partner like Ageility provides a full range of physical therapy services including:

  • Fall prevention and balance
  • Chronic and acute pain management and prevention
  • Arthritic pain management
  • Strength and flexibility training
  • Postsurgical rehabilitation
  • Sports medicine
  • Continence management
  • And more

How many times a week should you do physical therapy?

When a need for physical therapy has been determined, a course of treatment is likely to be 30 to 60 days in duration. However, the ideal type and frequency of physical therapy can vary from person to person. That’s why a personalized physical therapy partner like Ageility will design individualized treatment plans for each client’s unique circumstances, including sports medicine treatments to help them get back to the activities they love.

The frequency of physical therapy also depends on access. Full-service retirement communities with Ageility clinics strongly benefit from being able to help residents get the ongoing care they need on-site. Even if you need to commute to a clinic, Ageility’s community focus means your visit will be just as personalized and easy as if you lived next door.

Is it ever too late to do physical therapy?

Maybe you have an old back injury that’s still causing you trouble or you’d just like to get up and greet visitors without the need for assistance. No matter what’s holding you back physically, there is no better time than now to start physical therapy. There’s no age limit on improving your quality of life, and Ageility’s therapists are trained and eager to help people reach their personal goals regardless of age, ability or athletic history.

What physical activities are good for older adults?

Many of the physical activities you’ve enjoyed over the years have huge benefits for people as they age. There are exercises and activities, though, that are particularly effective for seniors due to their low impact that puts minimal stress on the body. A few that Ageility’s physical therapists love to use in their customized treatment plans include:

  • Pilates
  • Dumbbell strength training
  • Chair yoga
  • Resistance band workouts
  • Aquatic therapy/water aerobics

How can I find a physical therapist for seniors?

Getting older doesn’t mean you can’t be in the best shape of your life. With regular physical therapy, that hike on your bucket list or goal to continue to live independently is within reach.

Ageility’s licensed therapists are trained and ready to help you get there and make the process as easy and painless as possible. Just wait until you discover what physical therapy can do for you.

To learn more about Ageility’s physical therapy services, contact Ageility at [email protected] for more info or search for an Ageility location near you.

The Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

How Getting In the Water Can Help Get You Back On Your Feet

Beverly was ready to return to teaching, but there was one painful obstacle in her way. Well, make that two. After getting both of her knees replaced, Beverly was facing at least three months of slow, stressful rehabilitation and recovery. That was a long time to be away from her students and the job she loves. Good thing there was another, more appealing option: an innovative Ageility aquatic therapy program at The Court at Palm Aire in Pompano Beach, Florida. The benefits of aquatic therapy include a faster and easier recovery. Within two months, Beverly was back on her feet and walking into class with knees that felt stronger than ever.

“Aquatic therapy has been a vital, less painful step in my rehabilitation and recovery,” says Beverly. “Had it not been for the care and exercise that I received from my aquatic therapist, I wouldn’t have been as mobile and able to return to work so quickly.”

Whether you need physical therapy to get you back to work like Beverly, or on the golf course, aquatic (or pool) therapy provides a safe and easy path to a speedy recovery. Aquatic therapy also treats a wide variety of conditions and offers a long list of benefits for patients of all ages and fitness levels. Not sure if aquatic therapy is right for you or your loved one? Here’s what you need to know about aquatic therapy before taking the dip.

What’s the difference between aquatic therapy and traditional physical therapy?

Think about the last time you were floating freely in a pool. It felt almost effortless, right? That’s because the buoyancy provided by the water supports your weight and, in turn, reduces the amount of stress placed on the joints. Now consider the last time you splashed someone. Moving your hand through the water requires more force than through the air because of water’s natural resistance. Yet, it also demands far less strain than the weights you would use in traditional physical therapy. That resistance allows for strengthening muscles with less stress, making aquatic therapy a speedier and less painful recovery option than traditional therapy.

What are the benefits of aquatic therapy?

Nothing relaxes the mind and the body quite like a few hours in the pool. Aquatic therapy, though, offers far more benefits than just that refreshed feeling. Spending time in the water exercising alongside a physical therapist can also help you strengthen muscles, reduce swelling, improve balance and enhance flexibility. Put those together and a couple of months of aquatic therapy sessions can help you regain the strength, endurance, and balance you need to get back to moving normally with less pain.

What conditions does aquatic therapy treat?

In short, just about everything! The therapeutic properties of water alongside skilled aquatic therapy specialists can treat a large number of injuries and ailments, and alleviate many chronic conditions. Here are some of the most common that aquatic therapy can treat:

  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Arthritis
  • Lower back pain
  • Joint replacement
  • And many more!

Why choose Ageility for aquatic therapy?

Everyone going through physical therapy has unique circumstances, aches and pains. That’s why Ageility’s experienced and certified therapists provide customized aquatic therapy based on the particular needs of the person. Onsite, heated pools with adaptive devices also allow greater flexibility and convenience for older adults in assisted living communities and outpatients like Lisa. For over a decade, Lisa says customized aquatic therapy has proved “indispensable” to her recovery as a C3 incomplete quadriplegic. She says her improved mobility from “work in the water” has helped her be more functional and independent than she ever thought possible.

“In short, the more I do in the water, the more I can do on land,” she says. “But more importantly, the more I do in the water, the better I feel overall, both physically and emotionally.”

Physical therapy can be a long and painstaking process, but it doesn’t have to be. Aquatic therapy offers a relatively painless recovery in less time with a whole host of benefits, no matter your condition. If traditional therapy doesn’t appeal to you, aquatic therapy at one of Ageility’s physical therapy locations near you might just be the perfect solution to help you get back to the daily activities you love most. Just don’t forget to dry off first!

Experience aquatic therapy designed for older adults who want to live better

Does Ageility sound like the solution you need – for yourself or your senior living community? Find an Ageility clinic or learn more about Ageility partnerships.

Active Lifestyle Tips for Seniors

Anytime Moves for Whole Body Health

Have you ever wondered why it is that children are encouraged to be active – yet as we age, there’s less focus on movement, flexibility and aerobic ability? We’d like to change that by providing some active lifestyle tips! Older adults often fall off the radar when thinking of fitness, but they need to stay active as much – if not more than everyone else. Physical fitness is necessary for the everyday tasks an older person needs to do to stay independent, but it’s also required for driving safely, interacting with friends and an overall better quality of life.

These simple tips for encouraging an active lifestyle work for seniors AND people of all ages – from age 3 to 103!

Work out with the TV

While you or your loved one may not be in shape enough to try hot yoga or get in the cross-training trend, there are plenty of workout videos designed with older adults in mind. From line dancing to gentle stretching to working out with weights, your current fitness level and doctor’s recommendations can help guide what activities are safe. Don’t assume that those confined to a walker or wheelchair are exempt from enjoying video workouts. “Chair exercise” videos are popular with those over 70, and they offer a low-strain way to get blood flowing and muscles moving within their full range.

Walk every day

This advice is true for everyone, not just older adults. The simple act of walking offers maximum health impact with very little effort. For loved ones confined to the home or who can’t venture out during inclement weather, multiple sets of “hallway” walks will do just fine. Set a goal to walk the length of the home 10 times a day, for example, being mindful of changes in terrain from rugs or carpeting that could cause a fall.

Join an active lifestyle group

It’s not as much fun to work out alone, so make it a date. There are many community groups formed with the sole purpose of getting the gang together to make a move, and with everything from organized mall walkers to pickleball teams, it’s an incredibly effective way to play. Ask your local senior center what types of meetups happen each week. You’ll probably find the right activity to join in no time.

Learn something new

Taking a class is a good idea at any age, and learning a way to be active is appropriate for seniors, too. Swimming is the perfect way to get low-impact movement indoors or out, and you’re never too old to pick up a new dance style. Check with your local senior community to see what new courses combine fitness with friends. Learning new things is good for your whole body – and especially your brain.

Talk with your doctor

No matter what motivates you to move, it’s wise to get a physician’s input before starting something new. Even a different set of stretching exercises can cause harm in the wrong circumstances. While it’s not a good idea to fear the unknown, it can take time to understand how new physical activity can affect the body. Start just one new workout at a time, and be sure that there’s someone close by to help if anything goes wrong. While most seniors tolerate moderate activity quite well, unique health conditions – including medication and mobility concerns – can limit the choices for some older adults.

Remember, fitness isn’t only about movement. It’s a whole-body thing.

Reinforce the importance of the following tips for staying healthy throughout a lifetime:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids and let your doctor know if you start to feel thirsty or have a change in urination. Dehydration is much more serious for older adults, and certain essential vitamins and minerals can become out of balance with sudden fluid intake changes.
  2. Pay attention to new aches and pains. While a little stiffness when starting a new exercise is normal, sudden or severe pain is not. Ask your doctor what’s acceptable – and what’s not – and discuss how pain relievers, ice or heat can alleviate common aches from working out new muscle groups.
  3. Listen to your body. No one is a better expert than you. If you feel dizzy, unstable, weak or tired, stop working out and seek medical attention. Some warning signs aren’t as specific as others. A general feeling of something being wrong is a very real concern and doesn’t need additional symptoms to qualify as a real issue.

Ready to get started in experiencing the fullness of a fit and healthy life? The right time to start is now. With some help and inspiration, a better future is possible.

If you want to understand how fitness can play a role in your loved one’s care – find an Ageility location near you.

Meet Denise Kelly, Founder of Ageility

Her occupation? Making people whole.

Most people begin their careers in their early twenties. Denise Kelly began her career in occupational therapy a tad earlier. She was eight.

“There was a girl in our neighborhood with cerebral palsy,” says Denise, founder of Ageility, a national network of outpatient rehabilitation and fitness clinics. “Her name was Gail. I and some of my other siblings volunteered to help her parents care for her. We worked with Gail doing what at the time were pretty innovative therapy techniques called ‘patterning.’ That early experience inspired two of my siblings to become physical therapists, and because I wanted to be different, I became an occupational therapist.”

That early exposure to innovation and compassion, along with a competitive spirit, inspired Denise to go into occupational therapy, a form of therapy that helps people regain the ability to do normal activities. It also inspired her to start her own business to provide something that didn’t yet exist: therapy with a whole-person approach. That business is Ageility, which opened its first outpatient clinic in 2005.

A Passion for Wellness and Wholeness

“I always had a passion for the wellness side of things, helping people help themselves in getting better,” says Denise. “It’s not a passive job; it’s an active job.” The Ageility approach to wellness, Denise explains, emphasizes creative problem-solving. “If you can’t move from the waist down, how do you put your pants on? If you can’t lift one arm, how do you do the dishes?”

But Ageility isn’t just about helping people regain the ability to enjoy the little moments that make up much of their lives. There is a fitness aspect as well.

“Retirement doesn’t have to mean sitting on the couch all day, and we know that’s not what people want,” Denise says. “Older people want to be productive. They want to be as fit as they can be.” A great example of this, she notes, are the National Senior Games, for which Ageility is an association partner. “The Senior Games are the most motivating thing I’ve ever seen,” Denise says. “The games are very competitive, including pickleball, a paddleball sport that combines badminton, table tennis, and tennis. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the country in the active older adult arena. I play it myself!”

Denise explains that its fitness component is part of what makes the Ageility approach unique. Ageility offers the full gamut of rehabilitative services — physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech language pathology and speech therapy — but also fitness services to address the older person’s other goals, which may include not just getting better but living better. Not just reacting to the pressing need but proactively preventing injury or reinjury. It’s an approach that helps clients live more fully, because when the body reaches a higher level of ability and agility, the mind and spirit are lifted as well. “The traditional occupational therapy model was to tell the patient, ‘Do this,'” says Denise. “But we recognized that many people are motivated to take care of themselves and to be as well as possible.”

And so, although different therapies do wonders for the patient recovering from an injury or event, such as a stroke, “there is also the person who says, ‘My knee hurts and I want to get better so I can play tennis again,” Denise says. The Ageility approach to include the possibility of post-rehab fitness helps residents stretch what they thought possible and strive to achieve their personal best.

“What also makes Ageility different is that we have a hospitality background,” Denise says. That hospitality, concierge-like focus creates at least two benefits, she notes. First, Ageility clinics are located within senior living communities, allowing flexible scheduling and daily availability for residents versus visiting therapists whose time and schedules may be limited. Second, Ageility clinics make available larger and more sophisticated equipment such as recumbent bikes and electronic balance platforms that visiting therapists can’t bring with them.

Setting a New Course: One Client’s Story

Denise recalls one resident, a man in his seventies who loved golf but had had a stroke that prevented him from getting back out on the links. “He had gone through an inpatient rehabilitation stay where they worked on certain goals, and they were good, but they didn’t focus on some goals that were important to him. He wanted to get back out on that golf course.”

Following inpatient therapy, the man returned to his senior living apartment but without golf, his social life had dried up. “He had been very gregarious, the life of the party,” Denise recalls. “So that was tough.”

Once the man entered outpatient care with Ageility, however, things changed for the better. “Because the damage from his stroke prevented him from playing a full game of golf, we created an abbreviated golf game for him,” Denise said. “We had a putting green in our facility, so we started him on the putting green and went from there. He was able to reconnect with what he loved.”

Older = Still Growing

When asked what she loves most about Ageility’s clients, Denise doesn’t hesitate. “Older people don’t see themselves as ‘old,'” she notes. “They’re still growing. They’re continuing on their journey. That’s why I love our motto: ‘Your potential is our passion.”

Denise’s own journey took her from her early neighborhood volunteering to Boston University, where she earned her BS in occupational therapy, and then to Lesley University, where she earned her master’s in healthcare management. She later founded Ageility and today serves as senior vice president, overseeing 208 outpatient clinics and 27 inpatient clinics in 28 states.

And what about Gail, the young woman with cerebral palsy who inspired Denise to become a therapist all those years ago? “She grew up to have a good life,” Denise says. “She married and had children. She inspired my sister and brother and me at a young age to go into this field. I think that’s kind of cool.”
Ageility is reinventing rehab for older adults with a whole-person approach to wellness. Are you or a loved one looking to reach your personal best? Visit us to learn more about our programs and services.