Experts are continually researching the best treatments for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, from medications to foods and therapies. Since there’s currently no cure for the disease, there’s a strong emphasis on ways to maintain or improve quality of life wherever possible.
In a recent event presented by The Kensington Reston and HealthPRO Heritage, two doctors discussed the benefits of rehabilitation in memory care, and how families can find success with these types of treatments.
Discover what rehabilitation and therapy options are available to your loved one with dementia, signs your loved one might need these services, and how a memory care community might be the best way to support families through the experience.
Redefining Rehabilitation in Memory Care: How and why it can benefit your loved one
During a recent Zoom webinar, INOVA experts Dr. Atrac Kay, neurologist, and Dr. Denise Mohess, who specializes in geriatric medicine, discussed the importance of rehabilitation for memory care residents.
The doctors explained how to identify when a loved one needs rehabilitation and how it will benefit them. They also touched on frequently asked questions from patients and their families.
The doctors pinpointed the tools for success when your loved one is going through rehabilitation in order to minimize difficulties and ensure they are getting what they need.
Rehabilitation and therapy options for those with dementia
The types of rehabilitation or therapy your loved one needs depends on their unique situation. While there are certain signs of dementia, including memory loss and mood and personality changes, each person’s strengths and areas of improvement vary greatly.
Your loved one’s health team will recommend the rehabilitation or therapy services that will best help them maintain their quality of life and independence.
Occupational therapists will evaluate your loved one to determine their strengths and areas that need intervention. These professionals work to improve daily function by helping those with dementia to adapt or compensate within their environment. They also assist caregivers with their role in their loved one’s care.
The most frequently used intervention for those with dementia is modification, which is used to maintain safe environments through personal assistance, social support, and verbal cues.
Occupational therapists also can recommend exercises to help with daily tasks and range of motion, and will assist with maintaining the types of habits and routines that your loved one enjoys.
A speech-language pathologist can test your loved one’s speech, language, and thinking skills — and even eating and swallowing functions, if that is an issue.
Speech-language therapists can help a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia with memory, problem-solving, and attention, as well as safe eating practices. The goal is to help your loved one remain as independent as possible.
They can show you and your loved one how to use tools such as:
- Memory books
- Written words and pictures to aid with tasks
- Effective communication strategies for caregivers and family members
Some neurological studies suggest gait abnormalities, such as a slower gait, can be some of the earliest signs of cognitive impairment. Evidence is growing that medical professionals can potentially delay dementia symptoms with physical therapy and exercise.
Physical activity might protect the brain from further decline, and increasing strength and balance will help to prevent falls. Those with Alzheimer’s and dementia are at a much higher risk of falls.
Signs your loved one might need rehabilitation services
Dementia symptoms vary depending on the cause, but it’s important to be aware of the common signs and symptoms. These include:
- Memory loss
- Trouble communicating or finding words
- Losing or misplacing things
- Difficulties with problem solving
- Confusion and disorientation
- Mood and personality changes
- Trouble with motor function and coordination
These symptoms don’t always mean your loved one has dementia. If you notice these signs or other health changes, encourage your loved one to visit their doctor. The doctor can evaluate them and ensure these changes are not due to another underlying condition.
Once diagnosed, you can work with the doctor to determine the best types of rehabilitation or therapy for your loved one in order to maintain quality of life and potentially slow the progression of the disease.
How can rehabilitation help those with Alzheimer’s and dementia?
Rehabilitation is meant to help your loved one maintain maximum independence at any stage of the disease. While rehabilitation often is thought of in terms of physical injuries, it has been found to be just as beneficial for those with cognitive impairments.
With rehabilitation or therapy, health professionals evaluate your loved one as an individual, with varying needs and abilities.
Based on your loved one’s strengths and areas of improvement, they can be led to achieve whatever goals are important to them, whether it be improving everyday functioning, boosting social skills and communication, addressing behaviors and anxiety, or maintaining physical strength.
How do memory care communities support seniors and their families?
Moving a loved one to a memory care community soon after their diagnosis sometimes can be the best option. The right community will be a loving support for you and your loved one, and on-site rehabilitation services will ensure your loved one has the resources they need — all within reach.
A community that specializes in memory care will focus on each individual’s unique needs and joys. These communities will ensure the wellbeing of your loved one, and are properly accommodated in ways that aren’t always possible for at-home care.
Sometimes, caregiving can become too much, and we need support from a community to keep our loved ones safe and cared for 24 hours a day. This is especially true when our loved ones reach the middle to late stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
A community will have the necessary, specialized support to keep your loved ones comfortable and content.
The Kensington provides expert, loving memory care
The Kensington Reston has two distinct memory care neighborhoods to ensure the proper level of care for your loved one. We proudly partner with HealthPRO Heritage to offer exceptional on-site rehabilitation and therapy services.
Our Promise at The Kensington is to love and care for your family as we do our own. We exemplify this promise in all aspects of our care, from cozy and safe living spaces to life enrichment activities and dining services.
At Reston, we not only are trained professionals — we excel in helping residents and their families find beauty in special moments. Contact us today to learn more about how our memory care community can support you and your family.