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GERIATRICS - Biopsychosocial and Environmental Aspects of Aging

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Successful aging is hard to define, yet it is something that each person hopes to achieve. This monograph will explore various models and theories of health, illness, and disability as they apply to the older adult and physical therapy practice. The biopsychosocial dimensions of successful aging will be discussed with an emphasis on the role of the physical therapist to support longevity and contribute to an older adult’s freedom from disability and disease. The second part of this monograph explores environmental dimensions of successful aging and the role of the physical therapist in reference to financial security, housing options, adaptive equipment/technology, leisure activities and social networks. Case studies illustrate how physical therapists have the knowledge and skills to assist patients or clients in adapting to their changing circumstances, whether that is through primary prevention and risk reduction measures, direct interventions, advocacy in public policy, or consultation.

Editor: Barbara Billek-Sawhney, PT, EdD, DPT, GCS

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this monograph, the course participant will be able to:

1. define successful aging from a biophychosocial and lifespan developmental perspective.

2. discuss factors that appear to contribute to longevity and freedom from disease/disability as they relate to successful aging.

3. explain how physical therapists may promote longevity via physical activity, exercise, and environmental adaptations.

4. discuss the role of the physical therapist in primary and secondary prevention and risk reduction across practice patterns.

5. explain various housing options, including home modification, available to older adults.

6. discuss how physical therapists can make their communities better places for aging individuals as it pertains to home and work environments.

7. given a case scenario, address relevant biopsychosocial and environmental adaptations that promote successful aging across settings and activities.

Mary Thompson


Dr. Thompson is the Director of Post Professional Programs and professor at the School of Physical Therapy, Texas Woman’s University, Dallas. She is a native Floridian and completed her undergraduate degree in physical therapy from the University of Kentucky, followed by her advanced masters in geriatric physical therapy from Texas Woman’s University. Dr. Thompson later completed her PhD in higher education with a minor in aging studies from the University of North Texas. She has been a physical therapist for 37 years.

Clinically, Dr. Thompson has worked primarily in home health with time in skilled nursing facilities and hospice. She is an American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Geriatrics. In the professional program at Texas Woman’s, Dr. Thompson teaches health promotion and wellness courses using a service-learning model and teaches in the professional management course sequence. In the post professional program, she collaborated with others to develop the curriculum for the Baylor-TWU Women’s Health Residency program and the Academic Certificate in Geriatric Physical Therapy. Dr. Thompson teaches PhD students how higher education institutions work and the roles of faculty and department heads. She enjoys mentoring PhD students in both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Course Instructions

  1. Click on the Contents tab to watch the course recording.
  2. Click the Take Quiz button to complete the assessment. Learners will have 3 attempts to pass and must answer at least 70% of questions correctly.
  3. Click the View/Print Your Certificate button under the Certificate listing. You can view/print your certificate at any time by visiting the APTA Learning Center and clicking the CEU Certificate/Transcript link on the left-hand side of the page. 

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    Open to download resource.
    Open to download resource. Please read the monograph and complete the post-course assessment.
    15 Questions  |  3 attempts  |  11/15 points to pass
    15 Questions  |  3 attempts  |  11/15 points to pass Please complete the post-course assessment with a score of 70% or better. You have three attempts to obtain a passing score.
    CEU Certificate
    Up to 0.40 contact hours available  |  Certificate available
    Up to 0.40 contact hours available  |  Certificate available Please download and save certificate for future use.