Consistency builds a relationship and trust between them. This is one of the points that is emphasized when meeting families for the first time. This is especially needed when the relationship is longer term.
- Fear of falling is a limitation for many older adults and often they refuse to try “scary” exercises. However, once a trusting relationship is built, more challenging exercises can be completed. Often it’s not only the complexity of the exercise that can be made harder, but also the amount of hand support allowed without fear. Both lead to improved function and less risk of falls.
- Every person is unique and the repetitive time spent with clients allows the physical therapist to learn the client’s motivators and peculiarities. For example: Some clients do not like change; while others crave variety. Communication style is also client specific. Some clients want minimal conversation but for some, talking and joking is their preference. This just reinforces the individuality of the person; thus they are more apt to participate longer with the exercise program.
- Quickness in identifying illness/medical complications of a client is another benefit of consistency. When sudden changes occur: shortened walking distances, more help needed for transfers, change of attitude, new dizziness, or new pain, the PT is more likely to investigate an issue. This quickness can lead to faster treatments of bladder infections, blood clots, pneumonia, etc.
It continues to be surprising when families comment on how much more their loved one will “do” and “share” with the physical therapist than with them. Building a relationship and being a confidant is extremely important for progress.