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Exercise can reduce need for ADL assistance in dementia patients

Regular exercise improves balance for people with some types of dementia and reduces their need for assistance with activities of daily living (ADL), according to research published recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Investigators in Sweden studied 186 residents of 16 residential care facilities who were over 65, had dementia, and needed ADL assistance. Study participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Members of one group participated in an exercise program that aimed to improve leg strength, balance and walking, and was led by physiotherapists. Members of the other group participated in stimulating activities such as group conversations, singing and reading out loud. Sessions ran for 45 minutes each, two to three times per week, for four months.

All participants were tested before the study began as well as four and seven months after completion of the program. The researchers found that performing regular functional exercise can lead to an improved quality of life. Due to the progressive course of dementia, all participants’ abilities to independently manage everyday activities deteriorated over the course of the study. The deterioration occurred at a slower pace in the exercise group, however, and members of that group had improved balance.

The positive effects of the exercise varied depending on the type of dementia. The group with vascular dementia saw more benefits from exercising than did participants with Alzheimer’s disease. The authors, therefore, stress that it is important to identify and consider a resident’s type of dementia before formulating an exercise plan

Source: McKnight’s Senior Living