12 January 2009

Exercise program decreases falls

Reduction in falls found for people with dementia from carer-directed home exercise program
Dementia News (Alzheimer's Australia): 8 January 2008
A serious problem experienced by a third of older people living in the community is falling, and those with dementia are at even greater risk of falling than those who are cognitively normal. Megan Wraith and R. Arthur Criddle from Western Medicine in Western Australia set out to evaluate whether a carer-directed home exercise program might improve balance and reduce the rate of falling in people with dementia who are still living in the community.

Thirty-three pairs of participants and carers took part in a 12 month carer-directed home exercise study. The pairs were randomly allocated to either the exercise group (21 pairs) or the usual care group (12 pairs). The carers in the exercise group were taught how to guide the people they cared for through a specific exercise program. During the 12 month study each carer recorded how much exercise was done by the person being cared for and at the end of each month carers sent the records of activities for that month and details of any falls to the researchers for analysis. Carers in the usual care group also recorded all physical activity that lasted for 15 minutes or longer and details of falls and likewise sent their reports in each month.

Both groups received eight visits in the first six months from the researchers. The visits to those in the exercise group were to ensure that the exercises were being incorporated into the daily routine and were being done safely and correctly. During the second six months neither group was visited.

By the end of the first six months the participants in the exercise group had a significant reduction in the rate of falls compared to those in the usual care group. Over the second six month period the exercise group continued to improve in balance and to have fewer falls whilst the usual care group continued to deteriorate.

The researchers concluded that a home exercise program managed by carers would be effective in improving balance and reducing falls in people with dementia.

The research has been reported on by M. Wraith and R. Criddle in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia: Reduction in falls found for people with dementia from carer-directed home exercise program, in Alzheimer's and Dementia: Volume 4, Issue 4, Pages T448 - T449 (Poster Presentation P2-263)

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