The Benefits of Physical Therapy for Alzheimer's

1
Overview of PT for Alzheimer's Disease

Senior women exercising outside
Exercise can be of benefit for people with Alzheimer's disease. Portra Images/Getty Images

Many studies have shown that exercise is beneficial for people with Alzheimer's disease. Along with cardiovascular fitness, increased endurance, and improved strength, people with Alzheimer’s disease get added benefits from exercising.

Benefits of regular exercises in people with Alzheimer's disease include maintenance of motor skills, decreased falls, and reduced rate of disease associated with mental decline. Improved behavior, improved memory, and better communication skills are a few other benefits associated with routine exercise programs in Alzheimer's disease.

Flexibility, balance, and strength exercises have been studied in patients with Alzheimer's disease versus medical management alone. At the end of the study, the patients who were treated with both exercise and medical management were less depressed than those in the other group and showed marked improvements in their physical functioning.

Physical therapy plays an important role in exercises for patients with Alzheimer's disease by tailoring routines to meet the individual needs of each patient.

In the links below, review strength, flexibility, and balance activities that people with Alzheimer's disease can participate in.

2
Balance Exercises

Photo of a wobble board.
A wobble board can provide an unsteady surface on which to perform balance exercises. Rollover/Getty Images

Often as we age, our balance skills deteriorate. For this reason it is important to do exercises to improve and maintain balance throughout our lives. Balance exercises can be performed daily and in your own home. You can start out with simple balance activities and increase the difficulty as your balance improves. Improving your balance takes practice. One simple exercise can be done and modified as your skill level improves. Read on to learn how to improve your balance starting today.

Beginner:

  • Stand up straight behind a tall chair or at a counter top.
  • Lightly grasp the chair or counter top with your finger tips.
  • Raise one leg a foot off the ground.
  • Maintain your balance while standing on one leg.
  • Hold for a count of 10 seconds.
  • Repeat with other leg.
  • Perform five on each leg.

Intermediate:

  • Stand up straight behind a tall chair or at a counter top for safety only.
  • Without holding on to the chair or countertop raise one leg a foot off the ground.
  • Maintain your balance while standing on one leg.
  • Hold for a count of 10 seconds.
  • Repeat with other leg.
  • Perform five on each leg.

Advanced:

  • Stand up straight behind a tall chair or at a counter top for safety only.
  • Close both eyes.
  • Without holding on to the chair or countertop raise one leg a foot off the ground.
  • Maintain your balance while standing on one leg.
  • Hold for a count of 10 seconds.
  • Repeat with other leg.
  • Perform five on each leg.

Guess what? Your PT can show you which balance exercises are best for you. 

3
Strengthening Exercises

Photo of a man with drawn on muscles for arms.
Electrical stimulation can be used to improve muscle function. Jessica Peterson/Getty Images

Maintaining optimum strength can help keep your muscles strong and keep your functional mobility at its optimum. Your PT can help you decide which strengthening exercises are right for you.

Click on the links below to review a variety of strengthening activities. Combine exercises to create your own exercise program.

4
Stretching Exercises

A man stretching his hamstrings in the Gym
Gary Burchell / Getty Images


Click on the links below to review a variety of stretching exercises.

5
Endurance Exercises

Photo of active older couple riding bicycles.
Riding a bicycle can help keep your endurance level up. Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

Endurance exercises include any activities that increase your hear rate and respiratory rate. Choose from these fun activities to increase your endurance:

  • Dancing
  • Yoga
  • Gardening
  • House Work
  • Bowling
  • Biking
  • Tai Chi

Many PT clinics offer group exercise classes. This has the added benefit of socialization during exercise, which can keep you motivated while getting your exercise in.

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