Merck Manual

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Spotlight On Aging

Spotlight On Aging

Disorders that require rehabilitation (such as stroke, heart attacks, hip fracture, and limb amputation) are common among older people. However, older people may have characteristics that make rehabilitation challenging:

  • They may be physically inactive.

  • Their muscles (including the heart muscle) may be weak.

  • They may lack endurance.

  • They may be depressed or have dementia.

  • They may have problems with balance, coordination, or agility.

  • Their joints may be stiff.

Nonetheless, age alone is not a reason to postpone or deny rehabilitation.

Older people may recover more slowly. Consequently, programs designed specifically for older people are preferable. Older people often have different goals, require less intensive rehabilitation, and need different types of care than do younger people. When older people are in programs designed for them, they are less likely to compare their progress with that of younger people and to become discouraged.