Remember! Our guides are to be used following an assessment with a qualified medical professional. Do not attempt these exercises if you have not been given a formal diagnosis, or given consent to complete these exercises by a Physical Therapist.

The 3 Essential Dementia Products!

Buy Now!
Buy Now!
Buy Now!

Dementia & Alzheimers Disease Physical Therapy Guide

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a progressively worsening and largely irreversible clinical syndrome that is characterised by a widespread impairment of mental function. Although many people with dementia retain positive personality traits and personal attributes, as their condition progresses parts of their personality start to disappear, and cognitive capability declines. With increasing loss of function, a patient is slowly robbed of his or her independence. Eventually, placement in a nursing home may be necessary. It is for this reason that Dementia has been referred to as one of the “major challenges of this century”,  due to the tremendous amount of pressure it places on local services, families and the individuals themselves!

There are multiple types of dementia, but the two most common that we see in every day practice include Alzheimers Disease (62%) and Vascular Dementia (17%). Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia and is classified by the degenerative changes in the human brain, whereby plaques start to form and reduce a persons ability to function. Vascular Dementia is a the second most common, and is caused by various types of vascular pathology in the brain such as small vessel blockages. Other types of dementia include Lewy Bodies and Fronto-temporal dementia, however it is often difficult to reliably distinguish between these different subtypes of dementia, and for the purpose of this guide, we will discuss dementia as a whole.

Prevalence

The number of people who are developing dementia is steadily increasing in line with the rate of the ageing population. Current estimates indicate that 1 in every 14 (7%) of the (UK) population aged 65 years and over currently have some form of dementia. The numbers of people living with dementia is increasing yearly and worldwide is expected to double every 20 years!

Causes

Dementia is a symptom of several underlying diseases and brain disorders that result brain cell death, this damage leads to a decline in a person’s mental and, sometimes, physical abilities.

Main causes include:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Alcohol Misuse
  • Parkinsons Disease
  • Motor Neurone Disease
  • Head Injury

The fantastic news is that the first 5 (highlighted) causes are avoidable, and taking action sooner can reduce your chances of developing Dementia.

Symptoms

Early symptoms of dementia are often mild and gradually develop over long periods of time. Most people do not notice that they present with any of these symptoms for some time, or until it is pointed out to them by a loved one / friend who knows them well. The most common and well known symptom of Dementia is memory loss – especially problems with short term memory, such as forgetting messages, remembering routes or names, and asking questions repetitively. As the disease progresses, people find increasing difficulties with ordinary daily tasks and activities that require some organisation and planning. The brain becomes more and more damaged over time as the disease progressed, sufferers of the disease will find increased difficulty with numbers, and finding the correct words to say when speaking long sentences. Towards the final and often most distressing stages of the disease, people will often suffer from depression with changes in personality and mood.

What Can Be Done To Reduce Your Risk Of Developing Dementia?

Although the numbers are scary, they are certainly not hopeless. Researchers continue to press forward searching for a cure, however in the meantime they encourage people at risk to make positive lifestyle changes to prevent the disease from progressing. As of now, prevention is the cure for Dementia.

Here are 5 things you can do to improve your brain health and work to prevent Dementia / Alzheimers disease.

1) Exercise!

The most important lifestyle change you can make to reduce your chances of developing Dementia is committing to daily exercise! Regular exercise has been proven to reduce your chances of developing Alzheimers disease. Running 15 miles per week has been proven to reduce your chances of developing Alzheimers disease by a whopping 40%! Furthermore, exercise has a whole host of incredible health benefits such as improving cardiovascular health, weight loss, reducing depression and much more! A very beneficial way of tracking the amount exercise you are completing in a week is to purchase an activity tracker! Commit to completing a certain number of steps, calories or activities ensuring that you are raising your heart rate and breaking a sweat! Our favourite is the Fitbit Charge 2 which can be found here! 

Buy Now!

2) Nutrition

There are hundreds of delicious healthy foods that are very beneficial for brain health. Try to eat them as part of a balanced diet, with regular meals. Always eat breakfast, as this will help your concentration and mental performance throughout the day and will stop you snacking in-between meals.

  • Oily Fish: Such as mackerel and salmon, full of omega-3 which keeps your brain healthy.
  • Olive Oil: Reduces cholesterol and blood pressure, therefore reducing your risk of developing a stroke and Alzheimers disease.
  • Berries, Fruits & Veg: Strawberries, blackberries, spinach, beetroot. All act as antioxidants which prevent or delay some types of cell damage.

Avoid where possible:

  • Salty foods: Such as chips and ready meals,  salty food causes high blood pressure, which increases our risk of stroke and developing Alzheimers Disease.
  • Trans Fats: Found in “ready-meals”, try to cook with fresh ingredients!

There are hundreds of cookbooks available to improve your nutrition and boost your brain power, here is our favourite! 

Buy Now!

3) Relaxation

A recent study completed in Canada demonstrated that too much stress and strain during your mid-life can ultimately lead to depression and dementia. chronic stress and anxiety damages areas of the brain (hippocampus) involved in emotional responses, thinking and memory, leading to depression and even Alzheimer’s. It is imperative therefore to find ways to alleviate your stress and reduce this risk factor! Check out these 10 simple ways to relieve stress on healthline.

You can also purchase hundreds of gadgets to help relieve your daily stresses, but our favourite is the simple stress ball found here! 

Buy Now!

4) Limit Alcohol Consumption

People who consume more than the recommended weekly limits of alcohol have a much higher tendency of developing Dementia or Alzheimer-like symptoms. The National Health Service now recommends that individuals should drink a maximum of 14 units per week for both men and women, spread over 3 or more days (no binges). For perspective, a bottle of beer or large glass of wine is typically around 2-2.5 units! It appears that the worst thing you can do for your brain health is repetitive binge drinking, or in layman’s terms, getting drunk as a skunk.  The more alcohol you drink, the higher your chances of developing Dementia or Alzheimers Disease.

If you are concerned about the amount of alcohol you consume, try and speak to your local health professional for advice on where to start. Many self help products exist to help curb your alcohol consumption, our favourite book is available here!

Buy Now!

5) Stop Smoking

People who smoke are twice as likely to develop Dementia or Alzheimers Disease! It is a shocking statistic and one that is so easily avoidable. Not only are you two times more at risk of Alzheimers, but smoking also destroys healthy tissues in the heart, lungs and vascular system, leading to a whole host of other diseases and illnesses. Smoking is known for its addictive nature but there a hundreds of products and apps that can help to curb the craving and improve your health and fitness at the same time. Our favourite smoking cessation kit is available here! 

Buy Now!

Remember! Prevention is the only “cure” currently in 2017. Try and improve your health and fitness by following the advice above. Improve your diet, start exercising and try to relax when you have the time!

2017-09-06T23:16:27+00:00