Symptoms of dementia
The individual with dementia may appear confused, disorientated and delusional. This means they may not be able to say what month or season it is and may believe they are in a different country or year. If they are repeatedly questioned on these matters, they may become anxious, agitated and sometimes aggressive. Individuals with dementia often have changeable moods and can appear depressed or withdrawn. Sometimes they may be inappropriate in public places such as speaking too loudly, being rude or getting undressed without reason. Often it can be difficult to communicate with someone with dementia due to their reduced memory and poor reasoning skills. It is essential that family and carers of individuals with dementia have a clear understanding of the condition and utilise the best possible methods of communication.
Types of dementia
Dementia can be fixed or progressive in nature. A fixed cognitive impairment is caused by a traumatic brain injury and does not get worse over time. A slowly progressive dementia does get worse over time and generally affects adults over the age of 65.
The most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy-bodys, fronto-temporal dementia, Korsakoff’s syndrome and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Causes of dementia
The specific cause of dementia is not known. However, the risk of developing dementia is increased by high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and an inactive lifestyle. A medical history of Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Down’s syndrome or HIV and a family history of dementia also increases the risk. Smoking, alcohol intake and obesity are risk factors that can be modified and reduced with appropriate support from a team of health professionals.
Diagnosis of dementia
A diagnosis of dementia will come from your geriatric physician or neurologist. The individual will have had the symptoms for at least 6 months and score poorly on cognitive tests such as the mini mental state examination (MMSE). Blood tests, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans will rule out alternative causes for cognitive difficulties and confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of dementia
Dementia can have a negative impact on the individual’s and the caregiver’s quality of life. Therefore it is important they are offered holistic care. Every individual is different and whilst some people in the early stages of dementia may be able to live at home, others will require constant supervision and assistance with activities of daily living. Treatment options for the person with dementia include medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, physiotherapy, pain management, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy. Some people may enjoy reminiscence therapy which is therapeutic reflection and discussion of life experiences using music and photographs.
Physiotherapy for dementia
Physiotherapy assessment can be provided by Physio.co.uk in clinic, in the home or within a 24 hour care facility. Often, it is helpful to have a friend or relative present at the assessment to provide a detailed account of the individuals past medical history, daily routine, problems and hobbies. Following a detailed neurological assessment, a list of the individual’s problems will be formulated along with realistic goals and an appropriate treatment plan. The treatment plan will be specific to the individual’s needs. However, a general treatment plan may involve:
- Muscle strengthening exercises
- Dynamic balance activities
- Practice of functional tasks – getting washed and dressed, cleaning
- Transfer practice – on/off chair, on/off floor, in/out the bath
- Indoor/outdoor mobility practice
- Stairs/slope practice
- Pain relief
- Fatigue management
- Provision of mobility aids and equipment
- Reduced risk of falls
- Increased independence in functional tasks
- Increased functional mobility
- Increased safety in the home environment
- Increased muscle strength and balance
- Increased confidence and quality of life
- Increased social skills
- Reduced pain
- Reduced fatigue
At Physio.co.uk we understand that the symptoms of dementia can significantly impact on both the individuals and the carer’s quality of life. Our specialist clinicians have valuable experience with those with dementia and are able to offer holistic caring treatment based on the individuals needs to grant the highest possible quality of life.
- Treatment at any stage of dementia
- Treatment at home or in residential care home
- Experienced specialised physiotherapists
- Caring, understanding staff
- Access to hydrotherapy
- Access to occupational therapy
- Access to speech and language therapy