Having a loved one suffering with dementia can be an overwhelming and a scary diagnosis for you as well as the patient. As we all know there is no cure for this condition, but there are so many ways we can help our loved ones get the best out of their lives and enjoy it to the full.
The word “dementia” has a whole lot of medical conditions under the umbrella, including Alzheimer’s disease. These medical conditions are caused by brain changes and can cause the individual to decline in cognitive abilities, memory, and their everyday thinking skills. Physiotherapy on a regular basis can help an individual stay as independent as possible for them, with the ability to carry on doing the things they have always loved and enjoyed.
Below are some of the difficulties that a patient with dementia may struggle with:
- Changeable moods
- Difficulty planning their day
- Difficulty with coordination and fine motor skills
- Balance issues
- Memory loss
- Difficulty communicating
- Anxiety and depression/withdrawn
- Behaviour that is deemed inappropriate
Once diagnosed with dementia, it will be explained that this illness can progress and become more severe with time. This can influence the patient’s physical well-being too.
Some complications that can occur physically:
- Muscle weakness
- General fatigue
- Muscles becoming stiff and painful
- Loss of coordination and balance that can lead to falls more easily
Seeing a physiotherapist will not cure dementia, but it can certainly help eliminate some of the symptoms that your loved one may be experiencing. A physiotherapist can help improve the patient’s quality of life and help slow down the symptoms that are occurring.
A physiotherapist will work on the following:
- Keeping muscles strong. Strengthening exercises to keep muscles strong so that the patient does not become sedentary and eventually have large muscle weakness, that will in turn not allow them to do the things they have always loved to do.
- Cardio and heart exercises. Having good cardiovascular function will help our body fight off illnesses that come our way.
- Stiffness. Staying as active and mobile as possible will help relieve stiff joints, keeping them active for as long as possible.
- Falls prevention. Improving balance, gait and coordination will help reduce falls, fractures, and other injuries.
- Practice on stairs. Helping and showing them how to do steps and stairs safely to prevent falls and injuries.
- Mobility aids. Guiding them and helping them use their mobility aids in the correct way to prevent any accidents from occurring.
- Educating the family and carers. It is important that family, friends and carers know how to support their loved ones in the best way possible. This may be through teaching them how to carry out an exercise programme or how to assist mobility.
We understand that patients suffering with dementia can feel anxious at seeing someone new in their home environment, so we approach our sessions in a respectful and kind way to help build up a trusting relationship. We strive to help our patients feel less anxious about our visits in a way that they can look forward to the sessions and get the full benefit each time.
It is always helpful when we see the patient, especially for the first visit, if a loved one or friend can be present to help us understand what their daily routine is, and what their hobbies and interests are. This will help us work towards realistic goals and provide them with a physiotherapy programme tailored to their own needs.
If you have a loved one who is suffering with dementia, please contact us on 0330 335 1016 to talk to us today.