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Aug
07

Who’s At Risk For Alzheimers – Physical Therapy’s Role

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Alzheimer’s By The Numbers

  • 5.2 Million People age 65+ are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (5%)
  • Over 40% of those age 85+ have Alzheimer’s
  • Alzheimer’s is the 5th leading cause of death in those aged 65+

Risk Factors

Age – age is the one common risk factor among those who have Alzheimer’s. Most are diagnosed after age 60. It is rare to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s before the age of 60.

Medical History of Brain Disorders and/or Traumas – certain brain disorders seem to put people at risk; this would include those with Down brain_physical_therapySyndrome, developmental & intellectual disorders. Another risk factor is head trauma and injury; this includes repeated concussions from falls, sports, or other means. It also includes Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) which can come from car accidents or other common causes.

Ethnicity – researchers are still trying to determine what the factor is that puts African Americans at greater risk for Alzheimer’s. While there is no particular answer as to “why,” they are exploring various possible explanations as they continue to research.

Genetics – scientists have concluded that there does seem to be a common gene that could increase a person’s risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Although having someone in your family increases your risk of getting Alzheimer’s, most people who are diagnosed do not actually have anyone in their family who has had or has Alzheimer’s.

Stress – in a recent study called “The Einstein Aging Study” researchers found that seniors who had more stress in their lives seemed to have a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

These risk factors alone DO NOT mean you WILL be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. These factors put you at higher risk. Only your physician can determine if you have Alzheimer’s & help you follow a suggested course of treatment.

Where Does Physical Therapy Fit In?

Research has proven that physical therapy can not only help those who have been diagnosed but there may be a connection between PT and helping to reduce your risk factors. Physical therapy can help by:

  • Physical Therapy can provide regular exercise has been found to possibly delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.
  • Physical Therapy can help improve memory through various intellectual stimulations that rely on visual and verbal cues from the therapist.
  • Physical Therapy exercise routines can help strengthen patients for everyday activities; delaying deterioration of muscles and strength.
  • Because every Alzheimer’s patient is different and progress at different levels it is important that they receive an individualized program focusing on each patient’s particular needs & abilities.

We highly suggest physical therapy as soon as possible in order to make quality of life the best it can be while dealing with this debilitating disease. Many studies have shown exercise and movement to be beneficial to many Alzheimer’s patients at various points of the disease. Remember, GO Physical Therapy & Wellness is the Physical Therapy Specialists of choice for LIAF (Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation). We work with Alzheimer’s patients regularly and best of all we come to you so there’s no upsetting schedule to keep or unnecessary transporting to PT appointments!

Dedicated To Your Health & Well-being (and safety),

Mike


Resources:

Department of Health & Human Services – “Alzheimer’s Is” – www.alzheimers.gov

APTA – “Move Forward™ Guide – The Physical Therapist’s Guide to Alzheimer’s”

NIH – “Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet”

Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine “Einstein Aging Study”

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