In the last few weeks, the uncertainty of the pandemic started to catch up with me. Therapists were being furloughed, offices were being closed, and patients, especially older adults, were not getting the care they need. I felt frustrated and powerless. Perhaps you’ve been feeling the same.
Then, out of the blue, a friend called and asked if I would present to the regional chapter of the Aging Lifecare Association. This is a very cool group. Members are geriatric care managers who own their own businesses. I jumped at the chance speak with them.
I was asked to talk about proactive ways to prepare for the next health crisis. I chose to focus on deconditioning, an often unaddressed problem for many older adults, especially when routines are upended. I spoke to about 40 dynamic, resourceful health service specialists at their weekly Zoom meeting. They were engaged, appreciative, and they asked great questions.
Speaking with these people, sharing my expertise to help them better support the older adults in their care, energized me. Sure, many of the ways we’ve reached out to our communities in the past are not currently viable, but there are still many opportunities to use our skills to make a difference.
We’re in an awkward period. We can sit back and wait for things to “get back to the way they were” or we can go to that place of discomfort (believe me, I do NOT love giving Zoom presentations) and make connections now that will help older persons and the survival of our profession.
I want to encourage you to reach out to groups, to share your expertise about topics like preventing falls, improving flexibility, preventing and addressing deconditioning, functional fitness, and improving quality of life, especially for older Americans and others hit hard by this pandemic.
To help get the ball rolling, I’m offering you the slides I used for my deconditioning presentation as a free download. Feel free to use them, not use them, use some but not all of them. Your choice. Insert your name, change the pictures, whatever it takes to make the PowerPoint yours. In addition, I’ve included a recorded Zoom session so you can see how I presented this information. It’s just a sample to show how easy and straightforward this kind of presentation can be. Your talk may look quite different.
Uncertain as to how to get an audience? Talk to your peers and see if there is an opportunity to educate them on what can happen if their older clients become deconditioned. If you google “care managers for older adults” https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=care+manager+for+elderly you’ll find lots of places to start. Make connections with groups like the Aging Lifecare Association https://www.aginglifecare.org/, which has chapters across the country and in parts of Canada. There are more groups than you might think who are eager to learn what you know about improving health and well-being.
While big Pharma is producing more and more commercials to get their message out, physical and occupational therapists need to find a way to get our message out too. Education, on whatever virtual platform you choose, is a tool we can use to make a difference in our profession and in our communities.
Carole B. Lewis, PT, DPT, GCS, GTCCS, MPA, MSG, PhD, FSOAE, FAPTA
President of Great Seminars and Books and Great Seminars Online
Practicing Physical Therapist
Recorded Zoom session of Dr. Lewis delivering a presenting on Deconditioning among older adults.