Today is the United Nations International Older Persons Day. A day which is used to remember that older people have the same rights are younger people. We should never discriminate because of age. This is why this year the themes for the day are to:
- Promote the rights enshrined in the Declaration and what it means in the daily lives of older persons;
- Raise the visibility of older people as participating members of society committed to improving the enjoyment of human rights in many areas of life and not just those that affect them immediately;
- Reflect on progress and challenges in ensuring full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons; and
- Engage broad audiences across the world and mobilize people for human rights at all stages of life.
You may be thinking “What has this got to do with physiotherapy?” Well when you think about it, quite a lot. This is because healthcare systems tend to be biased against older people. An example of this is a recent article published in Age & Ageing all about the term “no rehab potential“. Let’s be honest we’ve all used or at least thought about that term at some stage of our careers. But as the article suggests this is probably a direct concequence of dwindling resources within healthcare services.
When we think about though this concept of older patients not being able to rehab and get better isn’t grounded on a huge amount of evidence and it gets worse when you compare it against the themes of today. Older people not having access to rehabilitation certainly doesn’t promote the rights of older people nor raise the visibility of their rights, it quashes any of their rights. It prevents them from being heard within our healthcare systems.
Geriatric physiotherapy isn’t glamorous or high profile but it is essential for our healthcare systems and our aging communities. Take time today to reflect on what you would want for your elderly relatives when they see a physiotherapist. Today of all days, spend just that little bit longer with one of your older patients and hear what they want to get out of your session with them. After all not all old people are what you think…
If you need to brush up on any physiotherapy knowledge before seeing older people today why not take a look at our newly merged and improved page in falls.