The Benefits of Rehab Services for Those with Dementia

The Benefits of Rehab Services for Those with Dementia
by Allison Palank, Flagship Rehabilitation

The rehabilitation services of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy can impact the lives of those with dementia in a very positive manner. The therapists have been trained with how to work with the entire spectrum of these patients, from mild to severe types of dementia. Each patient that receives therapy undergoes an evaluation by a licensed therapist who identifies that patient's individual needs. These needs may be frequent falls in their room, trouble remembering things that were once second nature or poor safety awareness while completing daily tasks such as bathing and toileting.
Balance, gait or walking, strengthening and safety awareness are a few things that a physical therapist might address with a patient they are seeing who has dementia. Poor balance, difficulty walking, decreased strength and poor safety awareness all cause an increased risk for falls. When someone has dementia, they might forget to use their walker or cane or forget to ask for help when walking or transferring to the toilet. These too, may increase the risk of falls. Although, there might always be a risk for falls, the physical therapists aim to improve the patient's balance, gait, and strength and safety awareness to decrease the risk as much as possible.
Adaptive equipment and safety with daily activities are things that an occupational therapist might address with a patient with dementia. Adaptive equipment such as a tool to help with feeding and a raised toilet seat with handle bars are a few things that might make activities of daily living a little easier for the patients. The patient may be observed while completing daily tasks such as brushing their teeth or bathing. The occupational therapist will provide different tools to improve the safety of the patient, such as repositioning a piece of furniture or teaching a new technique to save energy and time.
Simple cognitive exercises or the use of communication devices are a few things that a speech therapist might utilize during a therapy session. Those with mild dementia may benefit from a wall calendar and a daily schedule to help remember things such as the day of the week or what time to eat lunch.
With all the rehab services, the therapists approach the patients in a slow and calm manner with simple commands. In order to make the therapy experience both beneficial, as well as enjoyable for the patient, the therapists aim to incorporate the patient's exercises and activities into things that might interest them, such as hobbies or favorite activities.