Rehabilitation is still often perceived by the public, and even by the medical profession, as a sophisticated and complex process aimed at helping the severely disabled to overcome functional limitations due to various impairments such as blindness or locomotor deficiencies; and is not perceived as including the amelioration of those deficiencies resulting from non-visible disabilities, such as mental retardation, or from other mental health problems, chronic diseases and chronic pain.
While rehabilitation has made progress as regards children and people of employable age, the challenge of rehabilitating the elderly has only recently been taken up. One of the main reasons for the slow development in this area might be the unduly pessimistic view of the value of treatment, held not only by the old people themselves, their relatives, friends and neighbours, but also, regrettably, by health personnel.
Due attention is not always paid to all the contributing factors of the disability, whether medical, social, psychological, occupational or economic. It is not always realized that rehabilitation is not just a uni-directional process during which the patient is simply an object, but an active process involving the disabled person and the therapist or the rehabilitation team; nor that it is not only a process of the individual adapting to the environment, but also one of changing the latter to meet the needs of people with certain restricted abilities.