This is our last article in my series on some of the diseases Physical Therapy can help. This month I have discussed, Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke, Osteoarthritis and Dementia.
How can Physical Therapy assist the Dementia Patient?
This is a very common question. Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology services can be beneficial to the person with dementia as well as their family and caregivers at various stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
In the early stages, rehabilitation services can help your loved one be as functional as possible for as long as possible. The focus of physical therapy (PT) with dementia care is to improve balance, muscle strength, and mobility and provide pain management. Another goal of PT treatment is preventing falls. People with Alzheimer’s or dementia are at greater risk of falls and mobility problems due to muscular weakness, history of falls, gait, balance deficits and cognitive impairment. Safe physical activity, including exercise, will maintain strength, balance, ability to walk and ability to get into or out of a chair or car.
Both the physical and occupational therapist may assist you in changing and enhancing your loved one’s environment to improve function and safety. Environmental modifications such as adding signs on bathroom doors and labeling drawers for socks and shirts may allow a person with dementia to function at the highest level possible for as long as possible.
In the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia, challenging behaviors are most often present during bathing, toileting, dressing and eating – all areas of expertise for an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists can provide instruction on how to manage these daily tasks safely and with as minimal stress as possible. Even if you believe your loved one now has a limited ability to learn new things, occupational therapy treatment can be helpful.
Physical therapy can assess one’s ability to walk safely, the risk of falls, and other functional tasks. The therapist will develop a treatment program, including exercise, to help maintain your loved one’s current abilities, which also has the effect of reducing the burden on the caregiver. A person does not need to remember having engaged in an exercise program to reap the benefits of exercise – they just have to participate.
At Integrative Therapy and Wellness, LLC in Phoenix, Arizona we come to you, to your home or your assisted living facility. Our goal is to assist our patients to Engage in Life and Engage in Wellness. Please contact me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for Reading,
Kimberly Jacob, PT, CNDT, BCST