At Your Brain in Mind, our Physiotherapists are skilled at working with clients with dementia and cognitive impairment (together with their carers). Our physiotherapists are also skilled at helping people to optimise their course of ageing and prevent dementia (including carers of people with dementia, clients with mild cognitive impairment, clients at risk of developing dementia, or anyone who wants to age pro-actively). Physiotherapists specialise in helping people stay active, strong, and healthy in the presence of medical conditions. Regardless of your age or health conditions, you have the capacity to make changes to your strength, balance, and endurance.
Physiotherapy for Clients with Dementia - How Can We Help?
Our Physiotherapists can:
- Screen and evaluate your balance, co-ordination, strength, physical fitness/endurance; assess any problems that might restrict your physical or functional abilities, and help develop strategies to manage any identified impairments.
- Assess your functional capacity (including your ability to walk, transfer and access the community) and help you to maintain your mobility and independence for as long as possible.
- Encourage and help you to maintain a physically active lifestyle and to participate in regular exercise.
- Assess and help you to manage your risk of falls and fracture
- Help you to develop an individualised exercise program (that is safe and enjoyable for you) to maintain and improve your mobility, strength, balance and endurance
- Engage with your family or carers so that they can help you to follow your program at home, if changes in your cognition make it harder for you to follow an exercise program.
- Help to train your family in how they can physically assist you, in a way that minimises the risks for them while also encouraging your independence. We often refer to this as “manual handling training”.
- Facilitate ongoing community participation by problem-solving ways to manage any barriers or limitations to community access and helping to train community access.
- Explore options for appropriate walking aids and equipment to help with transfers and mobility, and provide training in how to use these
- Help you to recover after a set-back (eg. surgery or injury) or help you to manage other chronic health conditions
- Identify pain and provide education, support and advice to manage pain.
Physio-led exercise can be delivered in a variety of ways depending on what might best meet your needs and be most enjoyable to you. We can provide services 1:1 or in a group (e.g. a balance class). We can provide services at the clinic, in your home environment or in other community settings that might best meet your needs (e.g. at a hydrotherapy pool or in an outdoor setting).
Why is Exercise so important with dementia?
Physical Activity Guidelines also apply to people with dementia (and their carers).
Exercise may help clients with dementia to:
- Support healthy brain function (some studies report improvements in cognition or delay in progression of cognitive decline)
- Maintain and improve physical health
- Build strength and improve balance and endurance
- Reduce your risk of falls
- Delay functional decline and maintain independence with daily tasks
- Maintain good mental health - including improvements in mood, and reducing stress, anxiety, and depression
- Encourage social interaction - getting out more and meeting new people.
- Manage behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (in some people)
- Manage other co-existing medical conditions (e.g. cardiovascular health, diabetes, pain)
- Improve quality of life
How can our Physiotherapists help to reduce falls and prevent fractures?
- People with cognitive impairment and dementia are at a higher risk of falls and fractures
- Physiotherapist are trained at assessing the multiple risk factors that may contribute to your risk of falling and help you address and manage these risk factors (which in some cases may include referring on to other allied health professionals to help manage specific risks
- We can help to educate you and your family members on falls prevention strategies
- Strength and balance exercises are important for people with dementia to reduce the risk of falls and fractures.
Why is it important that pain is well managed for people with dementia and how can our Physiotherapists help?
- Pain is often poorly recognised and undertreated in people with dementia
- The changes in your cognition might mean that you have difficulty expressing pain. We might need to work with you and your family to work out the verbal and non-verbal ways that you communicate that you are in pain.
- Physiotherapists are trained at identifying and treating pain and they can provide essential support/education to help manage pain
- Pain can affect your cognition, motivation and response to other interventions, so it is important for us to manage it
- Untreated pain may be the cause of some behavioural and psychological changes in dementia
How can our Physiotherapists help those without cognitive impairment (including carers)?
- There are declines in your physical abilities, cognition and functional abilities associated with age.
- While we can’t change getting older, genetics, or family history, we can pre-empt these changes and certain targeted interventions and health/lifestyle habits can make a big difference in maintaining or even improving these abilities.
- Physiotherapy, movement, and exercise is important in the prevention of age-related health conditions.
- We can help to measure your strength, balance, co-ordination, mobility, and agility and compare this to norms for your age. This can help to empower you with information and knowledge to help you optimize your ageing process.
- We can help you maintain and improve upon your strength, balance, cognitive capacity/processing speed, reaction times, bone mineral density, dual task ability, and fitness.
- We can assess your risk of falls, and manage and reduce these risks.
- Through exercise, we can help you to maintain/slow the decline in bone mineral density.
- Engaging in a program of regular exercise can help reduce the risks of cognitive decline and dementia. Physical activity can enhance brain health and slow the progression of Mild Cognitive Impairment.