Alzheimer's and Dementia Prevention and Management Program
What is Alzheimer’s and Dementia? Dementia is an umbrella term relating to a number of disorders that are characterised by the impairment of brain function, including language, memory, perception, personality and cognitive skills. This decline in function eventually impairs the ability to carry out everyday activities such as driving and personal care. Dementia can be categorised into early, intermediate and severe stages, with a progressive decline of independence throughout these stages. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, with 10% of people over the age of 65 currently suffering from this. The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders categorises Alzheimer’s disease as an impairment of long and short term memory, with an impairment of at least one higher cortical function. Currently, there is no cure for Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, however a multifaceted approach to management through medication and cognitive and behavioural symptom management can help to slow the progression of the disease and reduce the impact of these symptoms on the patient’s quality of life.
Signs and Symptoms
Early stage: word finding difficulty
Forgetting names and appointments, losing personal belongings
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Personality changes and uncharacteristic behaviour
Confusion and disorientation in unfamiliar surroundings
Intermediate stage: worsening of symptoms seen in the early stage, with reduced ability to cope
Unable to carry out ADL’s without help
Trouble with sleep
Increasing disorientation and confusion
Inattention, poor concentration and lack of interest
Late (severe) stage: worsening of symptoms seen in early and intermediate stages
Complete dependence on others for ADLs
Impairment of other movements (swallowing, chewing)
Complete loss of short and long term memory
Complications: dehydration, problems with bladder control, aspiration, injuries from falls
The effect of exercise on these symptoms
Exercise has been proven to reduce cognitive decline and improve neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with dementia, and reduce Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers, including amyloid and tau protein in the brain. Recent studies in this area have compared a control group receiving usual care, and an intervention group who underwent an aerobic training program, the results found that the control group got worse as expected with a progressive disease, however the intervention group remained at the same level, or their symptoms improved.
Not only has exercise been proven to reduce the psychological and behavioural changes with Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, but it has also shown to modify chemistry within the brain, reducing the tau protein within the brain, which is a biomarker that indicates the severity of the disease. Exercise is also vital in improving blood flow to the brain and regions that may be affected by the disease. Many patients suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s also have depressive symptoms that coincide with the development and onset of the disease. The positive effects of exercise that have been proven to help with depression are an added benefit to an exercise program. Exercising in a community based environment helps to increase social activity and withdrawal which is vital in reducing the symptoms in early and intermediate stages of Dementia.
As well as this, exercise is effective in delaying the onset of disease in patients who have shown a high risk of development. Moderate exercise is a marker of overall healthy lifestyle that benefits both brain and physical health. Physical activity has been proven to have a direct impact on brain function, increased neuroplasticity and increased beneficial brain chemicals that are effective in both delaying the onset and slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Alzheimer’s, Dementia and The Thrive Clinic
At The Exercise Therapist, we have developed a program that combines mindfulness practice, cardiovascular and strength training. Mindfulness-based interventions aimed at reducing psychological symptoms of distress, depression and enhancements of quality of life are increasingly applied and popular in a variety of settings. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s and Dementia, only management, early detection and prevention. Research has linked cardiovascular exercise and muscle hypertrophy as effective treatment interventions for the conditions of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Thrive Clinic gives these patients a supervised, clinical setting where they are able to engage in their exercise program, with the added benefits of a community-based setting. This environment is effective in managing and delaying the progression of their symptoms.
The Thrive Clinic involves an 8 or 12 week program, where the client can choose between two or three sessions per week depending on the severity of their symptoms. Their program will aim to reduce the symptoms of dementia, and improve overall cognitive function and cardiovascular fitness, with the overall aim to improve the clients overall quality of life. If you are interested in this program please contact the clinic on 9385 1430 or register your details in the contact form below.
Terms and Conditions - Any exercise program is not without risk and this or any other exercise program may result in injury, serious illness or even death. The risks are higher when you have a pre-existing medical condition or have not exercised for some time. You are responsible for seeking appropriate medical advice before commencing this program. The Exercise Therapist and Elite Health Management disclaims all liability from all in connection with your use of the programs, videos, and seminars or whether or not The Exercise Therapist or Elite Health Management is negligent. If you have commenced an exercise activity in accordance with this program and at any point during your workout you begin to feel faint, dizzy or physical discomfort, you should stop immediately and consult a doctor.