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Toni Talks about PT Today

Don't Count These Patients Out

Published May 29, 2012 2:57 PM by Toni Patt

It's been a while since I've had more than a few geriatric patients on my caseload. Now that my caseload is all geriatric, I've had to readjust. It's a good thing I didn't forget the first rule of geriatric care. Elderly patients are people, too. They should be treated that way.

It's been a nice change. They complain. They tell me they can't do therapy. Then they get up and do it anyway because we might as well get it over with. They come to therapy when they don't feel good because they want to try to do something. One nauseated woman insisted on completing her session because she was going home in a few days and wanted to be ready. After she threw up, she said she felt much better.

I have a 91-year-old lady who gets mad at me if I don't wear her out. She decides when we rest. I dare not make anything too easy for her. She took her turn standing on the evil pillow for balance training just like everyone else. Age is never an excuse not to do anything. Arthritis might be. But never age.

The elderly aren't afraid to laugh at themselves or others. We all giggle when a little, gray-haired lady lets loose with cuss words and then apologizes. She explained that sometimes you just have to say those things. Nobody is embarrassed to request help with diaper issues. If anything, everyone is secretly relieved it wasn't them with the problem.

I'd also forgotten how important therapy is to a SNF population. Therapy means the difference between staying and going home. The physical therapist is practically God because she makes the call. When I worked with my stroke patients, my nickname was "The Stroke Goddess" because I kept things running smoothly. Here I'm a goddess because I help people get home again. Maybe I'll stay for a while.


There are a lot of rewards in geriatric care and lots of fun in the therapy gym.  The patients have a wealth of knowledge about historical events and stories that are hard to believe but they are true.  

One item in your blog which is concerning is the term "diaper".  Brief, pad, attends all work just as well and it becomes a dignity issue when the word diaper is said aloud and others can hear.  Yes it is semantics but some people are more sensitive and will feel better if you use a different term.  

Even if the patients call them diapers it does not mean we have to.

Jason Marketti June 1, 2012 9:51 PM

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