Dementia is a significant and growing problem in the United States. By 2050, it is expected that more than 16 million Americans could be living with this debilitating condition. Skilled Nursing Facilities are tasked with providing care to help residents—and their loved ones—suffering from dementia navigate as the disease progresses. Therapy providers play a key role.
Residents with dementia can benefit through the use of occupational, physical, and speech therapies. But the question arises: How can people with this disease benefit from therapy services while struggling to recognize loved ones and figuring out where they are?
Let’s take a look at the role of therapy providers.
Therapy Providers Help Residents With Dementia Through Physical Therapy
Providing rehab services in the early stages of dementia is vital to help residents be as functional as possible for the longest period of time. Physical therapy can help improve balance, muscle strength, and mobility, while helping to manage pain. Another important goal of physical therapy for people with dementia is the prevention of falls.
Residents with dementia are at a higher risk of falling or having mobility problems due to balance deficits, muscular weakness, gait, and cognitive impairment. Safe physical exercises will help them maintain strength, regain balance, and walk freely.
Physical therapy can assess a resident’s ability to walk, risk of falls, and ability to perform other mobile and functional tasks. A therapist can then develop a treatment program that includes exercise to help residents maintain their current abilities.
Therapy Providers Help Residents With Dementia Through Occupational Therapy
During the mid-stages of dementia, the most challenging behaviors are often present during activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, bathing, and toileting. These are the areas where occupational therapists can be most beneficial for residents.
They can provide instructions on how to manage these tasks in a safe manner and with minimal risk and stress. Even in the most extreme of cases, occupational therapy can be of great benefit.
Occupational therapists benefits can also advise about environmental modifications necessary to keep residents safe. This may include additional labeling for everyday items such as doors or light switches, along with the removal of items, like rugs or cords, that could provide hazardous. These simple modifications can go a long way in allowing residents to function at their highest level.
Therapy Providers Help Residents With Dementia Through Speech Therapy
The ability to communicate effectively is an integral part of carrying out daily activities and leading a normal social life.
Speech therapy benefits residents with dementia in multiple ways—including assistance with speech, cognition, and swallowing, as needed. Additionally, a speech therapist can train family members in how to interact with a loved one to increase the chances of the resident recalling positive memories, actions, or emotions.
Speech therapists can also help residents who are having trouble swallowing. A gradual inability to swallow may result in weight loss, and speech therapy can help curb this behavior to improve a resident’s eating habits and overall health.
Speech therapy can also help counteract the sense of isolation and loss of dignity that residents suffering from dementia may experience. It can stimulate the brain while also improving a resident’s language skills. Residents receiving speech therapy show a significant boost in understanding spoken language.
At Apex Rehab, we’re dedicated to providing the most comprehensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy available to help residents successfully manage their activities and improve their quality of life. To learn more about how we could benefit your SNF, call (412) 963-9698.