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How to Age Gracefully
Charlie McDermott 00:00
This is the Bridging the Gap Physical Therapy Podcast, keeping you active and pain free. Welcome. This is Charlie McDermott, publisher of Palm Living Magazine and, in this episode, we’re going to discuss how to age gracefully with Dr. Bri Wyatt of Bridging the Gap Physical Therapy. Dr. Wyatt, how’re you doing?
Dr. Bri Wyatt 00:19
I’m great, Charlie. Thanks for asking. Excited to be back.
Charlie McDermott 00:23
And we’re excited to have you back. It was I mean, that last episode for our listeners who haven’t listened to episode number one of bridging the gap physical therapy podcast, your topic on the pelvic floor, physical therapy?
Dr. Bri Wyatt 00:37
Yes. So, I’m a pelvic physical therapist. So, we dove right into some of the things that I treat, which can be some things that people are not used to hearing about. You know, definitely, in this age, one of my goals is to make some of these topics a little bit easier to talk about. So, for me, it’s really easy to talk about some of those topics that are kind of like, there’s like, I feel uncomfortable. But the the real goal behind it is, if we can talk about these things, people are more comfortable getting care for it. So, if we make it easier for women to talk about sex and vaginas and things like that, they’re more likely to seek treatment and talk to physicians and healthcare providers about those things as well. So, trying to make it a new norm.
Charlie McDermott 01:23
Yeah, and, you know, good for you because there’s a lot of pain associated with that and because of the old norm called. I’m gonna assume you’ve already created this new norm that I’m sure a lot of your patients dealt with it for years on their own thinking it was just them and put up with it one, you can help them.
Dr. Bri Wyatt 01:42
Yeah, exactly and I have so many patients that leave my office, and they’re surprised, and they asked me, they were like, do you really talk about. This at such detail with everybody and I say, Yeah, you know, this is, it’s just like, if you come in with a neck injury, I’m gonna try to ask as many questions as it can to try to figure out exactly what’s going on. Same thing with the pelvic floor, even though it’s an area people are uncomfortable talking about, I’m going to spend as much time as I can to really dig and figure out what exactly is your problem and how can I help?
Charlie McDermott 02:14
Yeah, that’s what I absolutely love about what you and Dr. Lee do at bridging the gap. You’re obviously very skilled physical therapist, but it’s important to you guys that your patients understand, and you’ll spend the time to educate and explain so they realize and understand what’s going on. Good for you guys. So, today, it’s all about aging gracefully and it’s again, it’s like Oh, my goodness, who wouldn’t want to age gracefully and, and so I’d love the topic. Let’s start with, tell us a little bit about the, you know, the population of individuals that you work with them and who you enjoy working with as a physical therapist?
Dr. Bri Wyatt 02:54
I have a really unique situation, in that I work here in the clinic. But I also work in home health, physical therapy. So, I’m here at the clinic, and I’m seeing a really large variety of people. I’m seeing men, women, I’m seeing both ortho conditions and pelvic floor conditions and I’ve got, you know, teenagers coming in, new moms coming in. But then they also have the retired population, the golfers, the tennis players and then on top of that, when I’m not at my clinic here, I get to go to Home Health, where I work in assisted living facilities, and all of my patients are in their 80s, and 90s. So, I get to treat all of those people and then I get to take that knowledge and those experiences and bring it back to the clinic. So, one thing that I really like to work with people on is preparing them for life in the later years. So, I like to encourage people to really take control of their health and get started as soon as they can because I see a lot of people in assisted living where they’re 95 and you know, every day, they’re like, you know, I wish I would have met somebody like you 20 years ago, or I wish I would have had the education and the knowledge you’ve given me much earlier in life. So, a lot of what I do in assisted living, I like to bring that back to the clinic and really try to encourage people to live healthier lifestyles.
Charlie McDermott 04:23
Yeah, that’s wonderful. What is it that makes you connect with the older population generation?
Dr. Bri Wyatt 04:32
For me, I just love hearing all of their wisdom and their experiences. You know, there’s so many different things that they’ve done. There’s so many different places they’ve seen and everybody that I meet, I just want to know everything about them and, you know, I’ve met some amazing people with some incredible stories, and it really gives me hope for my future and of course, I always get so many pearls of wisdom from that, that really, I think sets me apart and I think the older generation, they just have so many great things to teach us, and especially my patients that are, you know, in their 90s, everything was so different back when they were my age and so it’s really great to hear, like, what they learned and what they wish they would have done different and so it’s really great to be able to have those conversations. While also helping them, you know, stay as happy and as healthy as possible, you know, in their 90s so that they can get, you know, a few more years of really good times and experiences in.
Charlie McDermott 05:38
Right, yeah. Wow, that’s very, very cool and yeah, you know, the first thing that came to mind is the stories that you must hear from those folks that you write, I mean, many of them were born at a time when, well, is it depression? You know, really no TV, let alone computers or walking around with a computer in your hand iPhones and whatnot.
Dr. Bri Wyatt 05:59
Yeah, especially right now with COVID going on, you know, I’m trying to teach these people how to video chat with their family and they’re like, what is this technology and it’s crazy.
Charlie McDermott 06:13
Yeah, because I guess a lot of them are, you know, they’re keeping the distance, they haven’t seen their, their loved ones for months.
Dr. Bri Wyatt 06:20
It’s really difficult and it requires a lot more on my end. So, I have a lot of family members that call me text me email me. So, even though I’m off work, even after I get off at five at the clinic, a lot of times I’m fielding phone calls for family members and keeping them updated on what’s going on in the facilities and how their mom or their dad are doing. So, you know, there’s a lot of changes because of COVID for everybody and it’s difficult to not be able to see your loved ones. So, I tried to make that process just a little bit easier.
Charlie McDermott 06:53
Yeah, that’s wonderful. So, Dr. Wyatt, what do you think, are the top three biggest mistakes people make as they grow older?
Dr. Bri Wyatt 07:03
One of the biggest mistakes, I think, is a lot of people wait until there is a problem. I like to encourage people to really seek out education and, you know, to seek out words of wisdom from rehab professionals or healthcare professionals. It really just makes sure that they’re doing everything possible, you know, before there’s a problem. So, I meet a lot of people who, you know, they just have minor aches and pains, and they just kind of ignore it and they’re not walking into my clinic until they can’t raise their arm at all and I try to encourage people, if you’re having aches or pains, if you’re noticing that you’ve got some tender spots, or pain points, as I like to call it, it’s a lot better to come in and treat that before it becomes a major problem. So, if you are, you know, playing tennis, you’re trying to stay active and you notice every time you serve, you’ve got just this little twinge, I try to encourage people to come in and get it looked at and try to figure out why it’s happening before it becomes a problem because it’s typically easier to work with and to teach you how to keep it from getting worse rather than, you know, when we wait until you can’t raise your arm at all. So, that’s the first thing I try to encourage people to do is if you’re noticing things aren’t 100%, don’t wait until you can’t do something and you’re in extreme amounts of pain before you seek help. So, that’s the first piece of advice I like to give people and the second piece of advice is you know what, a lot of people say if you don’t use it, you lose it. So, if you are sitting at home, and you’re a couch potato, and you’re just watching TV all day long, you know, those are the people I get really, oh, well, I’m not having any pain, I’m okay. It’s like well, you’re not moving.
So, I try to encourage people to get up and move every single day, whether it’s going for a walk or getting involved in pickleball tennis, you know, the more you move, the more you use those muscles and the stronger we can keep you. Most people are aware once we get older, we tend to lose muscle and it just kind of starts to break down as we get older. So, we want to encourage people to continue moving so that we don’t see significant decreases in muscle and in Florida, honestly, I see a lot of weakness happening faster, because we don’t have a lot of stairs and we don’t have a lot of hills. So, you just don’t see, you know quite as strong individuals as they get into the later years. My mom and my sister live in Colorado, and you know, when I’m working with people in Colorado and interacting with them, they tend to be a lot stronger and more in shape because the elevation there is insane and there are a lot of side walking up these crazy terrains. So, I try to encourage people to stay as active as possible. So, lots of little things you can get started on right away.
Charlie McDermott 10:03
That is great advice and you’re right, you know, the lack of stairs here versus I mean, we’ve all is Floridians now that Barb and I, we do have stairs. But you know, you can imagine you go back, many of the folks who live in Florida go back to the northern cold lands every now and then and they visit family and you know, they’re out of breath by the time they get a second because you’re right, you’re not used to stairs. You know, and you reminded me was in our health club days, when we had the health clubs in the Philadelphia area, you know, we used to teach our members or educate our members about the importance of being active, you know, whether it be strength training or walking stairs, and instead of the escalator, you know, just little things that we all can do that will make a big, big difference over time. But you know, the average male after age 30, there abouts loses about a pound of lean muscle mass naturally, every year and you know, by age 60, you think about it, that’s 30 pounds of lean muscle mass that just dissolves from your body and it’s another reason why we tend to gain weight faster as we get older, because we don’t have that lean muscle mass. If we lose 30 pounds of muscle that was helping us to burn calories, the energy, the momentum of weight gain just gets stronger and stronger. So, yeah, the more we can do to stay active, and it doesn’t have to be joining a gym and killing ourselves. I mean, I love your recommendations. Pickleball, I mean, how fun is that, right?
Dr. Bri Wyatt 11:42
Yeah, I just play pickleball on Saturday. You know, it’s a sport that I think is really great, because there’s not a ton of running. It’s really fun and social. So, you kind of forget that you’re moving and exercising, because it really is a social game and it’s a ton of fun and you know, I play with patients here and there because I want to show people hey, I’m playing. I’m out moving, and you can too.
Charlie McDermott 12:09
Yeah, that’s terrific. So, what kind of tips do you have for aging gracefully?
Dr. Bri Wyatt 12:14
So, besides the couple of things I already touched on, with moving regularly, hydration is a big one. I try to get people in the habit of drinking water and staying hydrated for not just because I’m a pelvic floor therapist, but because it’s a big issue that I see when I’m in assisted living is nobody’s drinking enough water and then they’re not hydrated, it affects their tissues. It affects their heart. It affects their bowel and bladder function. So, I try to get people to develop healthy habits as soon as possible. Because once it becomes a habit, it becomes a little bit easier and another thing that I come across in assisted living is, you know, when I’m treating individuals in their 90s, a lot of times cognitively, they’re not as sharp as they were when they were 50. So, it’s harder to instill these habits, because it’s harder for me to be able to communicate why it’s important. So, I try to really encourage everybody to start now, with nutrition, hydration exercise, making sure your body is moving like it should.
So, making sure you don’t have pain. It’s a great time to come in and see a physical therapist is before you have problems to talk about things like alignment, making sure your posture is where it needs to be, having us do a total body assessment to see if there are some areas of weakness that you can start to work on before you start to have a problem. So, I encourage everybody to really stop and think about where you are, where you want to be, and try to come up with some goals or some things that maybe you’d like to achieve and really use that as motivation for okay, this is the point in my life where I’m going to take my health and control and I’m really going to focus on every aspect of health, whether it’s mental health, spiritual health, physical health. I encourage everybody to start those things as soon as possible and I know David, and I, you know, we truly try to lead by example. You know, we’re exercising every day, we’re eating good foods here and you know, we’re constantly trying to be an example ourselves for, you know, we’re starting now. So, that way we get to 60 and 70 their habits and we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.
Charlie McDermott 14:37
Yeah, and you’re doing it and enjoying it even better, right?
Dr. Bri Wyatt 14:41
Charlie McDermott 14:42
Yeah, terrific. Well, Dr. Wyatt, once again, I appreciate spending time with you. It’s always a new lesson you teach me, and I know our listeners really, really appreciate your expertise and encourage everyone to get on over to Bridging the Gap Physical Therapy. Say hi to Dr. Wyatt and Dr. Lee and we’ll talk next episode.
Dr. Bri Wyatt 15:05
Yeah, sounds great.