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Treatments & Combating Challenges - DementiaGuide.com
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Treatments for Dementia

Combating Challenges

The elderly and frail are often the most enthusiastic in beginning an exercise program. It gives them a practical, positive step in improving their health and in providing them with a sense of control over the progression of their disease.

Participation in physical activity is associated with improved mobility and balance , and decreased risk of falls and fractures. Improvements in depression and behavioural problems have also been associated with exercise. However, there are challenges in administering an exercise program to people with dementia.

The primary challenges arise in three areas:

1) Declining physical health of both the person with dementia and the caregiver
2) Cognitive deficits and behavioural problems
3) Caregiver's style of interacting with the person with dementia

Persons with dementia may experience dizziness, muscle strain, chronic pain, or fall-related injuries. The exercise program should be adapted to meet their needs. Exercises that exacerbate physical problems should be avoided and caregivers should be alert to signs of distress. If the caregiver is unable to assist with the exercise program because of problems with his/her health, the exercise program can either be simplified or an alternative volunteer can be found for challenging activities.

While memory loss and confusion can make instruction difficult, caregivers are reminded to use simple 1-step instructions, use frequent visual demonstrations, and provide hands on guidance. Very specific and concrete instructions will help the person with dementia understand. Despite cognitive challenges, exercise participants have not only adhered to, but have even improved and expanded on their existing exercise routines.

Published research related to this topic:
Exercise and activity level in Alzheimer's disease : A potential treatment focus.
Teri L., McCurry, S., Buchner, D., et al. J.
Rehab. Research and Development. 1998: 35(4): 411-419

See Also:
About Dementia > Treatments for Dementia > Exercise Program
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Last updated January 13, 2019
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