How Physiotherapy Can Help Optimize Physical Function and Limit Frailty in Older Adults

Graphic of women stretching with toddlers
Posted May 18, 2021
Ashlea Wilson
BKin(Hon), MSc(PT), Dip.Manip.PT, CMAG, FCAMPT

Aging is a part of life, and something we cannot change. However, “aging well” is something physiotherapy can help you have some control over!

Physiotherapy is known to help maintain strength and mobility, and limit falls and injuries as we get older. Physiotherapists work with you to support health promotion and healthy aging. Physiotherapy has been shown to increase quality of life, improve some health outcomes, and decrease future use of health care services (1) . Recent studies have also demonstrated that seniors receiving rehabilitative services, such as physical therapy, are likely to show improvements in functional dependence and an improved frailty index score (2) . The frailty index score is “considered an estimate of biologic age, which has greater correlation with associated morbidity and death than does chronological age” (3).

As part of National Physiotherapy month this year The Canadian Physiotherapy Association shares this on their website (link at bottom of this blog):

“Physiotherapy helps optimize function and prevents/delays frailty.

  • Physiotherapy-led exercise programs can help prevent and address frailty by safely supporting those with conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis to remain physically active.
  • Physiotherapy can help improve patients’ overall sense of wellbeing (lessen the impact of depression, reducing anxiety, taking a holistic approach to improving function).
  • Physiotherapy can offer interventions that are likely to improve functional dependence and frailty scores in some older adults.
  • Physiotherapy is safe and effective at preventing/reducing risk of falls.
  • Physiotherapy-led physical activity can help improve cognitive function in those suffering from dementia.
  • Physiotherapy-led physical activity and interventions can help prevent strokes and improve health outcomes in recovery from stroke.
  • Physiotherapy can help prevent and treat urinary incontinence.”

The role of physiotherapy is to help people live independently longer, limit the need for additional health services and help ensure the quality of life we are living as we age is optimal! To read more about frailty and what physiotherapy can do to help please visit this link:



1. The Conference Board of Canada. (2018, May). Aging Well: Implications of an Aging Population for Physiotherapy in Canada [PDF file]. Retrieved from

2. Tsay, T., Shugrue, N., Charles, D., Migneault, D., McManus, R., Gruman, C., & Robison, J. (2021, March 1). Type of HCBS Support Provided Predictive of Frailty Status Change Among Older Participants. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 2(3). doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2021.01.091

3. Kulminski AM, Ukraintseva SV, Kulminskaya IV, Arbeev KG, Land K, Yashin AI. (2008) Cumulative deficits better characterize susceptibility to death in elderly people than phenotypic frailty: lessons from the Cardiovascular Health Study. J Am Geriatr Soc, (56), 898–903.