Nearly all types of dementia are incurable, and individuals with this diagnosis rely on a variety of treatments to manage their symptoms. For example, a wide variety of medications are used to boost levels of certain chemicals in the brain and to treat other symptoms that frequently occur simultaneously with dementia, such as depression or sleep issues. Hands-on therapies are also being increasingly shown to help with certain behavioral and physical problems and may provide a non-drug approach to symptom management. Therefore, your practitioner may recommend physical therapy for you or for your loved one who is dealing with dementia.
Over the years, practitioners have increasingly seen the benefits of physical therapy to the physical and emotional health of the patient with dementia. On the physical side, the greatest benefit seems to be a reduction in falls. Even if the patient does not have the cognitive ability to remember the plan of care or follow therapy instructions at home, regular in-office therapy can improve muscular strength, balance, and gait. This reduces the risks of falls, which in turn reduces the risk of bone fractures and head injuries. Of course, the increase in the movement that is experienced with regular therapy can also improve circulation throughout the body, including in the brain for improved cognition.
Well-being Benefits of Physical Therapy
While physical therapy seems as if it would most impact physical health, it can also improve emotional health. This type of personalized care looks for ways to incorporate favorite activities into one’s regular plan of care. Doing something enjoyable is particularly important to dementia patients as it improves comfort. Additionally, the personalized care experienced through regular physical therapy helps to build relationships with the patient, decreasing stress. In fact, some reports show that strong social connections may actually be able to decrease the rate of cognitive deterioration.
While physical therapy is typically not the only type of treatment that a patient with dementia will receive, this professional, in-office therapy can significantly help to improve the lives of seniors who are living with incurable memory issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease. While it can certainly strengthen their bodies and improve overall mobility, it has a high probability of helping to stabilize and improve mood, decrease aggressive episodes, and lead to higher overall patient comfort and happiness. Plus, these patients have an increased likelihood of being able to care for themselves at home longer.