The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

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Dementia

There are many kinds of dementia, with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia amongst the most common. Memory, thinking, comprehension, mood and judgement can be affected. This summary explains how physiotherapy can help.

What is dementia?

The term 'dementia' is used to describe the symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by specific diseases and conditions. Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms will gradually get worse.

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How can physiotherapy help?

Physios can assess problems that restrict a person’s physical activities as well as how able they are to join in with everyday life. The physio can work with the person with dementia and their carers to encourage and promote physical activity and maintain their mobility and independence for as long as possible.

They can show carers how to support independence. This can help to ease the carer’s role and promote the best quality of life for the person with dementia. 

Exercise can help to improve the thinking and mood of people with dementia, which in turn can reduce the need for medication and encourage social interaction. Exercise may in some patients have a positive impact on the behavioural and psychological symptoms of the condition.

Physios may lead exercise, music or recall classes. Seated exercise groups are an effective way of providing physical activity, along with walking and the use of technology such as the Wii. Strength and balance exercises are key for people with dementia to reduce the risk of falls and fractures.

People with dementia often have difficulty with reporting any pain they may be in; physios can assess and advise on identifying and treating pain with supporting seating and positioning advice to make the person as comfortable as possible.

People with dementia are at higher risks of falls. A physio can help reduce the risk of falls  through advice, strength and balance exercises and postural assessments. They can also advise carers and other health professionals on preventing falls.

Physiotherapists are the third largest health profession after doctors and nurses. They work in a number of settings including the NHS, in private practice and in community settings. Physiotherapy has been shown to work through studies and research and is a treatment you can trust.

What will happen when I see a physiotherapist?

Do you or someone you care for need treatment? 
Find a Physio

The first session with a physio will include a detailed assessment, advice and possibly a treatment. Everything you tell the physio will be completely confidential. You may attend alone or be accompanied by a carer or relative who may help with remembering and support.  

The physio will want to collect information about you in order to help them understand more you, your preferences and interests, which will help them to deliver person centered care. This may be included in your life story work.

How can I help myself? 

If you have dementia or are a carer, it may be useful to find out how other people with dementia and carers cope with some of the symptoms, such as memory loss. Finding ways to cope in the early stages of dementia will help in the short and longer term.

Guidance and evidence for physiotherapy

Links and further information

Disclaimer The content on this page is provided for general information purposes only and is not meant to replace a physiotherapy or medical consultation. The CSP is not responsible for the content of any external sites, nor should selection be seen as an endorsement of them.

Links

Last revised on

8 February 2013
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