Dementia in a loved one is a very stressful situation for any given families, as there is tremendous and evolving stress and difficulty, especially on spouse and close relatives, who will experience and undergo the mental and cognitive and behavioral changes in the person whom they have known for a long time. It is not normal ageing, as some believe, it is a conditions that is progressive, global brain condition.
Dementia is a global, non-specific illness syndrom, with its own set of signs and symptoms that can affect areas of cognition such as memory, attention and problem solving abilities. In the later stages, patients become increasingly disoriented to time, space, persons and place. It is progressive, and not curable. Occupational therapy can help by stimulating brain function and activities to maintain or prevent further deterioration, but it is still a progressive disease. Physiotherapy helps to maintain the physical and strength of the bodies, that they can still participate in activities and exercises that they enjoy, to prolong activity participation as much as possible.
To have dementia is not simply a problem of memory loss. Patients with this condition also progressively loses the ability to learn, reason, and recall past experiences. They also experience a loss of thought patterns, feelings and activities, which affects their quality of life, their carers, and enhance the need for a specialized institutional care. As the disease progresses the individual may become disinhibited, neglect basic care and hygiene, and become incontinent. About a third of people who are demented have depression, and one-fifth of them have anxiety.
There are a few causes to dementia: (1) the slow neuro-degenerative kind, where brain cells slowly die; (2) cognitive impairment following brain or head injury; (3) rapid progressive ones caused by prions and (4) as caused by other conditions such as Alexander disease, Canavan disease etc.
Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Implication
Following medical management by the geriatric doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists, we work closely with the team to provide physiotherapy and occupational therapy input.
Physiotherapy is utilized to maintain and boost physical strength and stamina, as well as to maintain joints range of motion, as well as the ability to mobilize or walk around, with a walking aid or wheelchair. We will prescribe group exercise activities and personalized individual exercises to maximize the patient's physical function.
Occupational therapy focuses on cognitive, social interaction, activities of daily living and leisure exploration. The big picture is about maintaining quality of life by maximizing their sensory input, which doubles as a cognitive jog. Activities in occupational therapy includes sensory stimulation, reminiscence therapy, reality orientation, social interaction therapy, group activities, activities of daily living such as meal preparation, showering, dressing etc independently, or as independently as possible.
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