Dementia is a progressive condition that affects cognitive functions such as memory, reasoning, and communication. However, it also has a significant impact on physical health. One of the critical components of comprehensive dementia care is physical therapy, which helps maintain mobility, strength, and overall physical health. For individuals living with dementia, staying physically active is not only beneficial for their bodies but also crucial for their mental well-being and quality of life.

The importance of physical therapists in dementia care

Physical therapy by trained therapists plays a vital role in the holistic management of dementia. Regular physical therapy helps our residents maintain their ability to move independently for as long as possible, which includes walking, transferring (e.g., from bed to chair), and navigating their environment safely. Strength and balance exercises are crucial for reducing the risk of falls, which are common and often severe in dementia patients. Improved muscle strength and coordination enable people with dementia to perform daily activities with greater ease.

Engaging in physical activities also boosts cardiovascular health, which is essential for overall well-being and can positively affect cognitive functions. It has been shown to reduce agitation, anxiety, and depression in dementia patients by providing a positive outlet for excess energy and improving mood through the release of endorphins. Exercise also promotes neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to adapt and form new connections—which can help slow cognitive decline and enhance mental functions such as memory and attention.

Livewell’s approach to physical therapy

At Livewell, we prioritise the physical well-being of our residents through a comprehensive physical therapy program put together by qualified therapists. We recognise that staying active is crucial for both physical health and cognitive engagement. Our approach includes a variety of physical exercises and outings, all tailored to the needs and abilities of our residents.

We work with qualified professionals, including occupational therapists (OTs) and biokineticists, who specialise in physical rehabilitation and exercise science. These experts design personalised exercise programs that cater to the unique needs of each resident. Our residents participate in a range of physical activities that are both enjoyable and beneficial. Activities include walking groups, strength training exercises, and balance improvement routines. We also incorporate fun activities like hand-eye coordination exercises using balls, which not only improve motor skills but also provide a sense of achievement and joy.

Each resident at Livewell receives a tailored exercise plan developed by our team of professional therapists. These plans take into account the resident’s current physical abilities, health conditions, and personal preferences, ensuring that the activities are safe and effective. These activities not only improve physical coordination but also engage cognitive functions, providing a holistic approach to dementia care.

Regular outings are an integral part of our program, particularly at Livewell Somerset West. These outings include visits to parks, nature walks, and the beach, which provide both physical exercise and social interaction. Such activities are designed to stimulate the mind and body, helping residents stay connected with the world around them.

Physical therapy is a cornerstone of dementia care, offering numerous benefits that extend beyond physical health to enhance cognitive function and emotional well-being. At Livewell, we are committed to keeping our residents active and engaged through a comprehensive program that includes various physical exercises and outings. By collaborating with qualified therapists such as occupational therapists and biokineticists, we ensure that our residents receive the best possible care tailored to their individual needs.

Our approach is not just about maintaining physical health; it’s about improving the overall quality of life for our residents. Through engaging activities and personalised dementia care plans, we help our residents live more active, fulfilling lives. At Livewell, we believe in celebrating life, keeping our residents connected, and providing them with the support they need to thrive.