Working with Older Adults
My current clinical is the first where I have worked primarily with an older population; most patients being more than 70 years old. I am surprised by how much I am enjoying the experience. I don't mean to sound like I wasn't looking forward to the opportunity to work with an aging population, however I should admit I had certain expectations that were a bit off the mark.
To start, I am constantly amazed at the level of exercise intensity some of the patients can handle. I can't be the only person to have underestimated the ability of older adults to progress through a relatively vigorous exercise protocol. Just last week, I worked with a man in his late 80s who never once took a break during his session (even when encouraged to do so). And that's not an isolated incident. The entire experience has me questioning whether or not I have been challenging my patients enough up to this point. It's a fantastic learning experience about why we shouldn't approach any patient interactions with preconceived notions about their expected level of performance.
The thing I love most about working with older adults is the appreciation they have for your efforts to help them. It's not glamorous. You aren't trying to help them complete their first marathon or even get back to work. You're simply trying to help them maintain their independence. Personally, I find this much more intimidating and thus much more rewarding. They are just so thankful for everything that we do and I am very proud of what I'm doing every day when I leave the clinic. What more could you ask for?
I have found yet another niche in the PT world that I love. I don't know what I'll do when I actually have to pick a career path.