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Healthily LifestyleLocked-down elderly facing ‘tsunami’ of health problems | #elderly | #seniors | #execrise

Locked-down elderly facing ‘tsunami’ of health problems | #elderly | #seniors | #execrise

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Ireland is facing a “tsunami” of health problems among older people forced to stay at home during the Covid-19 lockdowns, physiotherapists are warning.

The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists, which represents about 3,400 practitioners, is calling for the entire health service to be “reoriented” towards rehabilitating the older population as coronavirus restrictions ease.

With a shortage of physiotherapists in the country, practices are already struggling to cope with soaring numbers of older patients presenting with dramatically deteriorated bone and muscle strength because of inactivity.

Many have suffered falls and are experiencing balance difficulties, while there is also a “fear element and lack of confidence” about emerging back into some semblance of normal day-to-day life, said Esther-Mary D’Arcy, the society’s professional adviser.

“We are deeply concerned,” she said. “We could be looking at the majority of people in the older population needing advice and guidance in addressing bone health, balance and muscle mass.”

The society is writing to the National Public Health Emergency Team about the urgent need for a full-scale national rehabilitation and awareness campaign to stem “a tsunami of health issues coming down the road”.

“It is the silent impact of the pandemic,” said Ms D’Arcy. “While Covid has affected and continues to affect many people, the restrictions around the pandemic are actually affecting many, many more.

“We are facing a tsunami of decreased health in the next few years. There has been a widespread decrease in the strength, balance and bone health of older people in particular. This is leading to stiffness, weakness and frailty, which will lead to fractures and surgery. Frailty can be the start of real decline.

“It doesn’t even make economic sense to allow all this deteriorate into an escalation of healthcare costs, because of surgery, hip replacements and the like.

“We need to get the nation moving quickly – physically moving. We need to reorient the health service to rehabilitation, with targeted rehabilitation of people.”

Silent impact

Ms D’Arcy said a steep rise in appointments being made with physiotherapists countrywide was a direct result of “people following orders from public health officials and Government”.

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