How Physical Therapy Improves the Lives of Alzheimer’s Patients
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to expand your awareness of the disease and learn about available treatment options to ease symptoms.
As background, Alzheimer’s typically develops in patients over the age of 65. Thus, it’s not uncommon for other symptoms of aging to accompany this condition. For example, patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (or a related form of dementia) are more vulnerable to hip fractures than others. They can also be more likely to experience related injuries involving falls or broken bones.
That’s why physical therapists often play very important roles in the lives of Alzheimer’s patients. With physical therapy for Alzheimer patients, potential benefits for the patient include enjoying a greater degree of independence for a longer period of time than they would without professional assistance.
While Alzheimer’s Awareness Month 2018 is certainly a good opportunity to focus on the disease, it’s also important for patients to know how to manage the condition year-round. The following are other key reasons an aging Alzheimer’s patient (particularly one who has been recently diagnosed) should seek the help of a physical therapist:
Balance Training for Preventing Falls
Aging people often fall in situations where they lose their balance. Luckily, with a proper physical therapy program for Alzheimer symptoms, they can learn how to more effectively regain their balance in such situation.
Physical therapists use a variety of tools and techniques to safely reenact the circumstances patients would experience prior to a fall. Through practice, they develop the ability to better prevent such a fall from occurring.
Physical Therapy Exercises Can Slow Memory Loss in Alzheimer Patients
Studies have shown that regular exercise can slow the decline of cognitive function and memory. However, patients with Alzheimer’s may need help learning how to exercise in a way that is safe and comfortable for them. This is where physical therapy for Alzheimer patients can be especially valuable.
The body of an aging person is typically more fragile than that of someone younger. That means certain physical activities may not be advisable. Physical therapists can evaluate Alzheimer’s patients and design exercise programs to fit their needs and abilities.
According to a study, regular physical activity may even reduce “gray matter shrinkage” in the brain. That simply means there is genuine physical evidence that the connection between Alzheimer’s and physical therapy can be a positive one for helping to slow the progression of the disease.
Unfortunately, patients with Alzheimer’s often experience depression as well. This is another area in which physical therapy for Alzheimer patients can help.
In one study, patients with dementia were separated into two groups. One group received only medical treatment. The other was provided with both medical treatment and a physical exercise program. When the study concluded, it was found that patients in the second group experienced lower rates of depression than patients in the first group.
Embrace Alzheimer’s Awareness Month as a Time to Strengthen the Body
Physical therapy programs for Alzheimer’s patients generally serve to maintain and even improve overall strength. This has two major benefits for patients. On the one hand, increased strength lowers their risk of falls and allows them to participate in more physical activities. On the other hand, if they do slip or fall, they’re less likely to be injured if their bodies are strong.
Especially with the advent of Alzheimer Awareness Month 2018, now is the time for Alzheimer’s patients to participate in strength-training exercises. Just make sure to consult with a physical therapist first to ensure accuracy and safety!
These are all key reasons to provide Alzheimer’s patients with physical therapy. The right program can simply have a major impact on their quality of life. It may also have a positive effect on their behavior, helping loved ones cope as well.
It doesn’t have to be Alzheimer’s Awareness Month for you to get more information about Alzheimer’s and physical therapy. Find a physical therapist today using the BetterPT website or BetterPT app to learn about how it can improve yours or a loved one’s condition.