It can be distressing when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. There are many unknown factors, specifically the rate at which the disease will progress, and how severe it will ultimately be. It's important to begin treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis. Many types of treatment are focused on the psychological and neurological aspects of the disease, and these types of treatment can include cognitive therapies and medication. But what about physical activity and therapy?
It's well-documented how physical activity can assist brain function. Appropriate physical activity feeds oxygen to the brain, and can aid the development of brain cells, which can improve cognitive function. Dementia is an incurable neurological disorder, and while physical activity won't halt the progress of the disease, it might be of assistance in slowing it. In any event, vigorous physical activity might not be possible for someone affected by dementia, but physical therapy is certainly possible when overseen by a qualified physical therapist.
The Stage of the Disease
The best physical therapy for those affected by dementia will be determined by the stage of the disease, with the nature of the therapy changing to reflect the progress of the disorder. It's designed to keep your loved one in a high standard of physical health, allowing them to maintain some independence for as long as possible. With this goal in mind, many forms of physical therapy for those affected by dementia will have several practical applications. But what does this mean?
Before cognitive decline becomes advanced, physical therapy for patients with dementia can be tailored to allow them to continue enjoying their preferred leisure activities. This means that their physical therapy will focus on specific activities, such as physical conditioning to allow them to continue to do simple things like gardening or taking the dog for a walk.
As your loved one's dementia progresses and their cognitive abilities become more and more compromised, physical therapy can become more closely related to precise everyday tasks. This can include tasks such as easing themselves in and out of a chair, washing themselves, and using the toilet. The repetition of the therapy makes it easier for your loved one to accomplish these otherwise straightforward tasks, which makes things easier for their caregiver.
The decline associated with dementia can be upsetting to see, but physical therapy might help to slow the severity of this decline.