The Dark Side of Physical Therapy for Geriatric Patients with Dementia

Published on March 30, 2023

Updated on December 19, 2023

As a seasoned , I have witnessed the advantages of for patients grappling with diverse medical conditions. Nevertheless, when it concerns geriatric patients with dementia in the terminal stage, can at times yield adverse effects. In this discussion, we'll explore five key reasons why physical therapy might not be the optimal choice in such cases.

If you are on the fence as to whether you should have your loved one with dementia receive physical therapy, may I suggest you contact a local rehabilitation center where you know they provide rehab for dementia patients (where would your own loved one go?) to find out what days and times their physical therapists are providing therapy. Then do surprise visits where you either don't tell anyone why you are there, or state you are just visiting a friend. Then literally spy and try your best not to get upset over what you see and hear. In my experience as a , while I never see abuse by the therapy personnel, I do see confused dementia patients who are crying, hurting, or otherwise confused as to what is being done to them. I want you to focus on the last three words, “done to them!

Agitation and Confusion

Physical therapy and dementia-induced : Geriatric patients with dementia often grapple with bouts of and confusion. Engaging in physical therapy can exacerbate these symptoms. The concentration and focus required during therapy sessions can overwhelm patients, particularly those with advanced Alzheimer's disease, intensifying their agitation and distress.

Elevated Fall Risks

Physical therapy and fall hazards: Physical therapy commonly involves exercises and movements that can be quite challenging for geriatric patients with dementia. These activities heighten the risk of falls, which can be perilous for individuals already in a fragile state of health.

Increased Pain and Discomfort

Physical therapy and heightened : Physical therapy can also amplify pain and for geriatric patients with Alzheimer's in the terminal stage, especially if they have underlying conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis. In some instances, it might even result in muscle strains or tears, further intensifying their pain and discomfort.

Fatigue and Exhaustion

Physical therapy's taxing nature: Physical therapy can be demanding even for younger, healthier individuals. However, for geriatric patients with dementia, the physical demands can be overwhelming and exhausting. This exhaustion can exacerbate their overall fatigue, which in turn can negatively impact their well-being.

Diminished Quality of Life

Physical therapy's impact on quality of life: Physical therapy might reduce the quality of life for patients with dementia due to cognitive and physical limitations that hinder their participation. Additionally, the time-consuming and strenuous nature of physical therapy can lead to a decline in the patient's overall quality of life.

Conclusion

While physical therapy holds undeniable benefits for many patients, it's essential to acknowledge that it may not always be the ideal choice for geriatric patients with dementia in the terminal stage. If you're contemplating physical therapy for a loved one in , it's crucial to consult their healthcare provider and hospice team to determine its suitability. 's primary aim is to provide comfort and enhance the quality of life for patients, and any consideration of physical therapy should align with this overarching objective.

Resources

My Loved One with Dementia

Understanding Dementia (Alzheimer's & Vascular & Frontotemporal & Lewy Body Dementia) (Video)

How Do I Know Which Dementia I'm Looking At? (Video)

Dementia Training material (Free)

Promoting Meaningful Relationships with Dementia Patients through Validation Therapy

Unlocking the Power of Validation Therapy in Compassionate End-of-Life Care

Validation Therapy: A Valuable Tool for Families and Healthcare Teams

Best Practices for Approaching Combative Dementia Patients

The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias

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How Do I Know You? Dementia at the End of Life

The Dementia Caregiver: A Guide to Caring for Someone with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Neurocognitive Disorders (Guides to Caregiving)

Sundown Dementia, Vascular Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia Explained

The Caregiver's Guide to Dementia: Practical Advice for Caring for Yourself and Your Loved One (Caregiver's Guides)

Ahead of Dementia: A Real-World, Upfront, Straightforward, Step-by-Step Guide for Family Caregivers

The Dementia Caregiver's Survival Guide: An 11-Step Plan to Understand the Disease and How To Cope with Financial Challenges, Patient Aggression, and Depression Without Guilt, Overwhelm, or Burnout

Dementia Care Companion: The Complete Handbook of Practical Care from Early to Late Stage

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The amount generated from these “qualifying purchases” helps to maintain this site.

The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease and Other Dementias

Dementia Home Care: How to Prepare Before, During, and After

The Dementia Caregiver's Survival Guide: An 11-Step Plan to Understand the Disease and How To Cope with Financial Challenges, Patient Aggression, and Depression Without Guilt, Overwhelm, or Burnout

Dementia Caregiving: A Self Help Book for Dementia Caregivers Offering Practical Coping Strategies and Support to Overcome Burnout, Increase Awareness, and Build Mental & Emotional Resilience

Navigating the Dementia Journey: A Compassionate Guide to Understanding, Supporting, and Living With Dementia

Ahead of Dementia: A Real-World, Upfront, Straightforward, Step-by-Step Guide for Family Caregivers

Four Common Mistakes by Caregivers of loved ones with Dementia and what do differently (video)

Eldercare Locator: a nationwide service that connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The amount generated from these “qualifying purchases” helps to maintain this site.

My Aging Parent Needs Help!: 7 Step Guide to Caregiving with No Regrets, More Compassion, and Going from Overwhelmed to Organized [Includes Tips for Caregiver Burnout]

Take Back Your Life: A Caregiver's Guide to Finding Freedom in the Midst of Overwhelm

The Conscious Caregiver: A Mindful Approach to Caring for Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself

Dear Caregiver, It's Your Life Too: 71 Self-Care Tips To Manage Stress, Avoid Burnout And Find Joy Again While Caring For A Loved One

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved

The Art of Dying

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying

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