Aging adults strive to remain healthy at home and in their community, but sometimes need help to accomplish this goal—this is where physical therapists can provide their expertise. Growing healthcare needs of an aging U.S. population critically stress resources of communities and healthcare systems; this has created an urgent need to examine novel preventive service models for community-dwelling older adults at risk for future functional decline.
Prevention services has demonstrated the ability to reduce an older person’s health, environmental and behavioral risks. When healthcare resources are aimed at providing preventative investments for health it can bring about cost savings with associated positive health outcomes. Evidence exists for positive impacts of focused prevention, but there has been no robust evidence to quantify the value of prevention-focused, home-based physical therapy services for those at highest risk of becoming home-bound or hospitalized with advancing age.
Evidence shows that being able to age-in-place is multifactorial and requires a holistic, cohesive approach. In addition to physical limitations, the capacity of older adults to remain safely in their home includes factors such as social support, nutrition, medication management, home safety, transportation resources, and an overall healthy lifestyle – all of which are within the scope of physical therapist (PT) practice, even though physical therapists do not consistently receive referrals for these skills.