PhysioPedal is a revolutionary cycling machine that works like your physical therapist that helps improve physical and cognitive health and brain function for people with dementia. Its portable design makes it easy to carry around and use in the comfort of one's home, allowing people with dementia to benefit from physical therapy without leaving their homes. PhysioPedal helps improve the likelihood of improved function for people with dementia, including those with Alzheimer's disease. A safe and comfortable environment encourages regular physical activity, which can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. With its easy-to-use design and adjustable settings, PhysioPedal can benefit each individual's needs, helping them reach their goals faster and more efficiently.
Physical therapy can improve balance and reduce falls risk for older adults. Regular exercise can reduce cognitive decline. A new study answers the question: Do physical therapy and assisted cycling machine benefit older adults with dementia?
The study was published in January 2020 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. In it, researchers looked at data for 1,477 people with a primary diagnosis of dementia. All patients were older than 65 years. Researchers compared outcomes for patients who received physical therapy versus those who did not. Patients who received physical therapy had at least one home visit by a physical therapist.
Dementia is the leading cause of disability in people over 65 years. It can lead to a decline in a person's ability to do daily functions. Activities like dressing, toileting, getting out of bed, walking, meal prep, and eating can be limited. People with dementia may experience problems with memory, language, decision-making, and coordination. Dementia also can cause mood changes, irritability, and depression. These can lead to a lack of well-being and reduced quality of life for the patient and their caregivers.
Research shows that a combination of these healthy lifestyle behaviors may also reduce the risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Be Physically Active
Being physically active — through regular exercise, household chores, or other activities — has many benefits. It can help you:
Keep and improve your strength
Have more energy
Improve your balance
Prevent or delay heart disease, diabetes, and other concerns
Perk up your mood and reduce depression
In one study, exercise stimulated the human brain's ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones vital to cognitive health. Other studies have shown that exercise increases the size of a brain structure crucial to memory and learning, resulting in better spatial memory. One study found that the more time spent doing moderate physical activity, the more significant the increase in brain glucose metabolism — or how quickly the brain turns glucose into fuel — which may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Keep Your Mind Active
Lots of activities can keep your mind active. For example, read books and magazines. Play games. Take or teach a class. Learn a new skill or hobby. Work or volunteer. These mentally stimulating activities have not been proven to prevent severe cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease, but they can be fun! Also, observational studies suggest that some informal, mentally stimulating activities, such as reading or playing games, may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s-related cognitive impairment and dementia.
Some scientists have argued that such activities may protect the brain by establishing "cognitive reserve." They may help the brain become more adaptable in some mental functions, so it can compensate for age-related brain changes and health conditions that affect the brain.
Being intellectually engaged may benefit the brain. People who engage in personally meaningful activities, such as volunteering or hobbies, say they feel happier and healthier. Learning new skills may improve your thinking ability, too. For example, one study found that older adults who learned quilting or digital photography had more memory improvement than those who only socialized or did less cognitively demanding activities. Some research on engagement in activities such as music, theater, dance, and creative writing has shown promise for improving quality of life and well-being in older adults, from better memory and self-esteem to reduced stress and increased social interaction.
Stress is a natural part of life. Short-term stress can even focus our thoughts and motivate us to take action. However, chronic stress can change the brain over time, affect memory, and increase the risk for Alzheimer’s and related dementias. To help manage stress and build the ability to bounce back from stressful situations, there are many things you can do:
Exercise regularly. Practicing tai chi or going for a walk, especially in nature, can restore a sense of well-being.
Write in a journal. Putting your thoughts or worries on paper can help you let go of an issue or see a new solution.
Try relaxation techniques. Practices such as mindfulness — which involves focusing awareness on the present moment without judgment — or breathing exercises can help your body relax. These can help lower blood pressure, lessen muscle tension, and reduce stress.
Stay positive. Release grudges or things beyond your control, practice gratitude, or pause to enjoy the simple things, like the comfort of a cup of tea or the beauty of a sunrise.
Manage High Blood Pressure
Preventing or controlling high blood pressure not only helps your heart but may help your brain too. Decades of observational studies have shown that having high blood pressure in midlife — the 40s to early 60s — increases the risk of cognitive decline later in life. In addition, the SPRINT-MIND study, a nationwide clinical trial, showed that intensive lowering of blood pressure (even below the previous standard target of 140 for systolic blood pressure) lowers the risk for mild cognitive impairment, which is a risk factor for dementia.
High blood pressure often does not cause signs of illness that you can see or feel. Routine visits to your doctor will help pick up changes in your blood pressure, even though you might feel fine. To control or lower high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest exercise, changes in your diet, and, if needed — medications. These steps can help protect your brain and your heart.
Stay Connected with Social Activities
Connecting with other people through social activities and community programs can keep your brain active and help you feel less isolated and more engaged with the world around you. Participating in social activities may lower the risk of some health problems and improve well- being.
People who engage in personally meaningful and productive activities with others tend to live longer, boost their mood, and have a sense of purpose. Studies show that these activities seem to help maintain their well-being and may improve their cognitive function.
So, visit with family and friends. Consider volunteering for a local organization or join a group focused on a hobby you enjoy. Join a walking group with other older adults. Check out programs available through your Area Agency on Aging(link is external), senior center, or other community organizations. Increasingly, there are groups that meet online too, providing a way to connect from home with others who share your interests or to get support.
We don't know for sure yet if any of these actions can prevent or delay Alzheimer's and age- related cognitive decline. Still, some of these have been associated with reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.