Dementia Physiotherapy & Occupational Therapy
Total Health Physio provides compassionate Physiotherapy & Occupational Therapy services to assist people living with a form of dementia to achieve goals relating to mobility and independence.
Dementia is an umbrella term for neurodegenerative diseases caused by disorders affecting the brain and characterised as the progressive decline of a person’s mind.
Dementia affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Brain function is affected to the extent it interferes with an individual’s normal social or working life.
There are varying types of dementia, most commonly:
- Alzeimer’s disease
- Vascular dementia
- Lewy body dementia
When treating individuals with this condition, our aim is to connect with our patients, we believe that is the essential part of achieving the best outcomes – building a relationship based on care and trust.
Our Physiotherapists work with patients to improve and maintain their mobility and quality of life!
We keep people living with dementia active and make them feel engaged in life, not isolated or apathetic.
Some dementia patients may withdraw from the community. Our goal is to ensure our patients feel purposeful and confident in themselves so they can continue to socialise to the best of their ability.
As an example, we work with our patients to improve their walking and reduce their risks of falls and by doing so allowing them to still get out and about in the community to do shopping with a partner or a friend or simply go for a stroll. We use evidence-based exercise programs to help our patients achieve their goals.
We perform ongoing sessions of rehabilitation exercises that are beneficial, stimulating and fun!
Our Occupational Therapists work with Dementia patients to increase their safety and independence at home and in the greater community.
Our OTs prescribe assistive equipment and suggest environmental changes to optimise daily tasks and safety.
Daily routines can be quite a difficult task because of memory loss. We implement strategies to help people remember to do certain chores or activities!
We may prescribe a walking frame and place signs around their residence saying “Make Sure to use your walker”. We find using certain cues help with independence during daily routines.
What is early-onset Dementia?
Most people with dementia are older, but it is important to remember that not all older people get dementia. It is not a normal part of ageing.
Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65 years. People in their 40s and 50s can also have dementia and this is referred to as early-onset dementia.
What is your process for Dementia referrals?
Prior to seeing the patient, we would appreciate as much of their medical history as possible. This may be available through associated doctors, family, nursing homes, the NDIS or support coordinators involved. This feedback and information will streamline our healthcare process.
Initial Assessment – A caring, empathetic Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist from Total Health Physio will see the patient at their residence to conduct an initial assessment. (I deleted the time as we only do 30min initial consults for private home visits vs 60min for NDIS).
This assessment will involve discussing the medical history, doing a functional assessment and taking outcome measures to gather as much information as possible and gain a real understanding of the patient, their concerns, their weaknesses, limitations and their goals. We like to take a holistic approach to our dementia patient’s care and set meaningful goals for them to achieve!
Our lovely team will work with the patient to allow them to live their best and fullest life despite the limitations of the disease!
How do you measure pain for Dementia?
This really depends on the patient and how advanced their condition is. People at the beginning of the Dementia process can still report pain verbally, however, those with advanced dementia may struggle to communicate this way.
We mentioned in our introductory paragraph that we strive to connect with our patients and in doing so we feel we can ascertain their pain levels and boundaries.
When completing rehabilitation exercises, we receive a lot of feedback from our patients’ facial expressions. We also identify the ways in which movements are inhibited, as this can be an indicator of associated pain.
How do you communicate effectively with Dementia patients?
The first step we take is in our referral process (listed above). The medical history of the patient is greatly beneficial to plan for this.
As an example, if we are made aware that the person has a hearing aid, we will know to check for this.
Dementia can cause cognitive impairments, such as short term memory loss. We try and cater our communication accordingly, such as asking direct yes or no questions, rather than making it uncomfortable by asking open-ended questions the patient may struggle to answer.
How many Australians live with Dementia?
There are currently over 400,000 people in Australia living with dementia. Of those people, about 55% are women. More than 50% of residents in Australian residential aged care facilities have dementia. Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in Australians over the age of 65 years, and the third leading cause of disability burden overall.