Each May, the nation celebrates Older Americans Month to recognize older Americans for their contributions and provide them with information to help them stay healthy and active. Who better to provide this information than physical and occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists? Each therapy discipline is uniquely qualified to help older adults remain active and healthy. Of course, this happens every day in the many skilled nursing, assisted, and independent living facilities in which Infinity Rehab therapists treat older adults. But what about beyond the rehab center or outpatient clinic? What are we doing as therapists to advocate for older adults?
As I read professional journals, magazine articles, blogs, and websites of various organizations, I always look at the credentials of those authoring the articles as well as the credentials of the advisory and editorial board members. I am frequently surprised, and dismayed, at the lack of therapists involved in these publications and boards. If we are the experts, why are so many of these articles directed to the general public authored by personal trainers and other fitness disciplines, and not by physical and occupational therapists, the functional and movement experts? Why do so many editorial and advisory boards behind this content lack therapist involvement?
I think as therapists we are great at helping older adults overcome deficits related to acute and chronic conditions, but we can be better at primary prevention through grassroots advocacy. It could be as simple as sending a letter to these organizations introducing yourself, explaining your expertise as a therapist that serves older adults, and requesting an opportunity to speak with them about how you might be of service to their organization. Here are some possibilities for getting involved:
• American Diabetes Organization
• Parkinson Foundation
• National Stroke Foundation
• Arthritis Foundation
• Alzheimer’s Foundation
• National Osteoporosis Foundation
• Board member and expert at your local gym
• Columnist for local newspaper
• Radio talk show host/hostess
• Adviser to local school board for fitness segments in curricula
• And many, many more
It’s worth the effort to spread the word about therapists as functional and fitness experts.
Mike Billings, PT, MS, CEEAA – President
Mike has been in the rehab industry since 1991 with a focus on older adult rehab since 1995. He has an exceptional ability to analyze data and apply the results to actual practice.
Mike oversees all operations for Infinity Rehab, supporting his leadership team with training, support and leadership. His extensive experience in rehab management gives him particular insight into employee training and retention as well as client relations. His special interests include managing evidence based clinical programs and patient outcomes with special emphasis on therapeutic exercise for the older adult.