Understanding dementia scope and interventions with Ageility

As one of the nation’s leading providers of inpatient and outpatient therapy, Ageility’s mission is to reimagine a world in which quality of life is ageless—going beyond rehabilitation to support older adults with fitness to build strength and confidence; speciality programs such as fall prevention and pain management; and more. Rehabilitation therapy is important for older adults with cognitive loss by focusing on remaining functions and abilities in a supportive environment.

In physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech language pathology the path to a patient or client’s goals of relearning to walk, resuming daily activities that are meaningful and valuable, and communicating with others can feel straightforward—build up strength one step at a time. But if your patient is an older adult with dementia, that path may not be so clear.

“Got Patients with Dementia?” is a new series of free dinner and educational presentations hosted by Ageility that gives physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists the opportunity to hear from Ageility’s Clinical Specialist Manager about interventions for dementia in physical, occupational, and speech therapies.

The inaugural “Got Patients with Dementia?” presentation featured Ageility Clinical Specialist Manager Nicole Lavoie. For the past 29 years, Nicole’s career as a physical therapist has focused primarily on older adults in both skilled nursing and outpatient settings.

“Even as a young child, I always knew I wanted to help people. Combine my desire to help people with a very sports-oriented family, and you get physical therapy.” she said. “What I enjoy most about my role in Ageility is the ability to make a difference in someone’s life every day. Whether that is through my own patient interactions or through the services provided by someone who has learned new skills from me.”

Nicole’s presentation included frameworks for addressing cognition in senior living communities, information about the Allen Cognitive Disabilities Model, treatment interventions, and how to highlight the medical necessity of these services.

“There was great discussion related to each participant’s experiences with patients as well as their own family members who were having cognitive changes,” Nicole said.

These presentations are not exclusive to Ageility team members—they’re open to all who are interested. Alyssa Ford, Ageility’s National Director of Clinical Operations, said, “The presentations were designed to build awareness about Ageility’s life changing services, give back to clinicians in local communities, and spread valuable knowledge.

“Clinicians are lifelong learners who are always seeking out educational opportunities,” Alyssa said. “Ageility has the ability to provide high quality education within a comfortable environment.”

The next “Got Patients with Dementia?” dinners and presentations are:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023 from 5:30 pm to 8 pm at Sierra Del Sol Senior Living in Tucson, Ariz. RSVP here.
  • Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023 from 5:30 pm to 8 pm at Pueblo Norte Senior Living in Scotsdale, Ariz. RSVP here.

To learn more about Ageility’s holistic rehab services for older adults, contact [email protected] for more info or search for an Ageility location near you. Ageility is a leading national provider of comprehensive rehabilitation therapy and fitness designed exclusively for older adults and senior living communities. Join our team by exploring career options near you.

Aquatic Therapy For Parkinson’s Disease: Let’s Dive In

You face challenges every day when you live with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Which means you’re already stronger than you realize. Because your life’s not defined by your mobility deficits; it’s made whole by the steps you take to manage them. Test the waters with aquatic therapy, and you can do more than just build strength and improve your balance — you can maintain long-term independence and improve your overall quality of life.

Now, before we wade deeper into all of the benefits of aquatic therapy for Parkinson’s Disease, let’s cover the definitions for those who aren’t familiar with PD or Aquatic Therapy.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease of the nervous system that affects movement. In other words: It’s a brain disorder that manifests physically. Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease can include shaking, stiffness, walking difficulties, and balance and coordination issues.

What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy is a specialized type of physical therapy. It usually takes place in a temperature-controlled pool while working one-on-one with a licensed practitioner. Aquatic therapy covers a wide range of water-based therapeutic techniques and exercises for relaxation, fitness, and rehabilitation.

Ok, let’s take a closer look at how water therapy can work as a treatment for Parkinson’s.

5 Amazing Ways Aquatic Therapy Helps Parkinson’s Patients:

  • Reduce your risk (and fear) of falling. 
    Stumbles and falls are a genuine concern when you’re managing Parkinson’s symptoms. That’s why water-based activities are so beneficial. Because the fear of falling melts away when you’re in the pool. So you can complete a wide variety of low-impact exercises with very minimal risk.
  • Allow buoyancy to wash away pain.
    Water’s natural buoyancy decreases the effects of gravity, which means your body weight is reduced by 75-90%. That’s an incredible amount of relief for weak and sore muscles. Plus, you can move with greater ease in the pool. You can make bigger movements and conserve more energy. This is particularly helpful if you struggle with fatigue or want to alleviate pain.
  • Build strength with water’s natural resistance.
    Forget about heavy dumbbells or clunky machines. Let the water’s turbulence be your training tool. The way the water moves, and the currents and flows it creates, provides proper resistance for every plane of motion. This kind of environment challenges your balance and coordination skills — prompting your core muscles to engage so you can build strength and improve posture.
  • Soak in the warmth to relax your muscles.
    Warm water is a marvelous medium for muscle therapy. Soothing temperatures help minimize rigidity, stiffness, and pain so you can increase your flexibility and boost blood circulation. This kind of relaxation can ultimately help reduce swelling and tremors.
  • Engage your body and your brain.
    While the symptoms of Parkinson’s are largely physical, the disease itself is based in the brain, so it’s important that you engage both body and mind. The simple act of stepping into a pool can spark joy and promote relaxation. Plus, water-based workouts trigger the release of endorphins (those delightful anti-stress hormones that produce a positive sense of wellbeing).

Find Your Partner in Parkinson’s Physical Therapy with Ageility When you live with PD, building a great support system is everything — from finding the right doctor to engaging family and friends on your journey. It also means finding a therapy partner you can trust, one with the expertise to support your unique neurological condition and physical symptoms. This is where Ageility’s Partner in Parkinson’s Program can really make an impact in your life. Several of our clinics are located in senior living communities with on-site pools, so you can dive in and experience the benefits of Aquatic Therapy for yourself. Find an Ageility clinic near you to learn more.

Word Finding Difficulties in Seniors

How Speech Language Therapy Can Help

We’ve all had the feeling. The word you’re thinking of is right there, struggling to get out, but keeps getting stuck on the tip of your tongue. Difficulty with word retrieval can be frustrating when you’re in the middle of a conversation with your family and need to keep pausing to rack your brain for a word.

What Do We Mean by Word Finding Difficulties?

This is such a common phenomenon that there’s a clinical name for it: “tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) state.” This occurs when parts of your brain temporarily don’t work together to retrieve the word you’re looking for, leaving you feeling a bit like a deer stuck in…ah, what’s the word?

A “TOT state” can happen to anyone, but it’s normal for word-finding difficulties to become more frequent in older adults. Information is processed slower, so lengthier pauses in conversation and tips of the tongue experiences are more common amongst older adults. These issues could be stemming from Alzheimer’s, but more often it’s just part of the normal decline of verbal fluency that occurs during aging. Here are five common causes that could be related:

5 Common Causes of Word-Finding Difficulties

  1. Stroke: This is the most common cause of word-finding difficulty in adults. Difficulties with word retrieval are usually associated with an acquired language disorder known as aphasia.
  2. Head Trauma: The left hemisphere of our brain is responsible for our language skills. Damage to brain tissue in this general area could result in word finding difficulty.
  3. Dementia: Word finding difficulty can sometimes be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
  4. Tumors: A brain tumor can also cause word retrieval difficulties. This largely depends on where the tumor is developing. If it invades the left hemisphere, word finding difficulty can become a problem.
  5. Aging: This is a natural cause of word finding difficulty. As the brain ages, chemical changes occur and memory abilities can begin to fade.

The Benefits of Speech Language Therapy for Word Retrieval

It may be normal for it to be harder to find that word on the tip of your tongue as we age, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Developing strong word-finding strategies alongside a speech therapist in a Speech Language Therapy treatment program can help you discover new ways to find words when your brain doesn’t give them to you. Ageility’s trained speech therapists bring hope by using an individual’s strengths to help overcome their weaknesses, like practicing circumlocution to find the intended word. For example, if an individual with word finding difficulty couldn’t think of the word axe, they might say:

“It’s the thing that chops wood. You know, lumberjacks use them; it has a long handle and a sharp edge. They chop down trees with it…what is that thing called?”

Circumlocution is a great strategy for using related words to locate the missing word. It also helps keep the flow of conversation going. It’s a key tool used by Ageility’s SLPs to help clients restore their ability to think clearly and communicate effectively. Here are 10 other mental exercises and activities they recommend that can help treat word-finding issues.

10 Effective Brain Exercises to Boost Word-Finding Skills

  1. Read every day to increase your vocabulary. With an increased vocabulary, other parts of language such as word finding and fluency will improve.
  2. Practice reviewing the names of your friends and peers by mentally associating a name with their face.
  3. Take any letter of the alphabet and try and state aloud as many words as you can that start with that letter. With practice you may notice that your list of words gets longer.
  4. Write a short segment on your day’s experience in a journal. This will help improve the motor skill of writing. Research suggests that writing with a passion also improves language skills.
  5. Work on your public speaking as this is a wonderful exercise to stimulate the brain and your language skills. Talk about what you love and your anxiety will be reduced.
  6. Solve crossword puzzles to promote reading and vocabulary.
  7. Name objects that you see as you walk about the community.
  8. Work on the art of the story telling or telling a joke!
  9. List things needed to complete a simple task. For example: for gardening you would need a shovel, rake, shears, gloves, etc.
  10. Use the alphabet to cue the word you are thinking of when experiencing word finding difficulties…recite the alphabet…a,b,c,d,e,f,g …g! “I was trying to think of the word goat!”

Word-finding difficulties and TOT experiences are bound to happen every now and then, especially for older adults. With the right tools and strategies, though, you can find that word you’re looking for with ease and keep the conversation flowing. Ageility’s speech specialists can help you get there through individual assessments, treatment planning and care focused on reducing your word-finding frustrations so you can communicate clearly and joyfully.

Experienced Speech Therapy for Older Adults

Are you or a loved one experiencing tip-of-the-tongue moments more frequently? Ageility speech therapy may be able to help. Find an Ageility clinic near you to learn more.

Muscle Your Memory: 12 Tips to Stay Mentally Sharp

Your brain is a remarkable thinking and memory machine. As the writer Bill Bryson noted in his bestselling book, The Body, “Just sitting quietly, doing nothing at all, your brain churns through more information in thirty seconds than the Hubble Space Telescope has processed in thirty years.” (49) No wonder that over the years it can gradually become harder to remember things or think as sharply as you once did.

However, for patients with cognitive impairment, such as that caused by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the decline is much more pronounced. Patients with dementia experience struggles with memory loss, communication, feelings of isolation, or lack of interest in activities they once loved. But here’s the good news: We humans are resilient, and throughout every stage of dementia, people with dementia hold onto their innate drive to be successful.

With this in mind, here are a dozen tried-and-true brain-sharpening strategies to fuel that drive, handpicked by the dementia experts at Ageility. Try them yourself or with someone you love.

12 tips for staying mentally sharp

  1. Sing a song. Learn new songs and challenge yourself with old favorites that you haven’t heard in years. After singing or humming to yourself, look up the lyrics online to see how many words you remembered.
  2. Write it down. Birthdays, medical appointments, passwords … writing things down, either on paper or using a digital app, helps to remember them when you don’t have your notes in front of you.
  3. Play The Categories Game. Choose a category—such as fruits, birds or cars—and see how many you can name in 2 minutes. Pick a new category each day. Don’t keep the fun to yourself—challenge a friend or loved one to a duel!
  4. Name that … name. When greeting someone new, try not to let your mind wander. Hint: Using their name a few times during your first greeting helps. Note an interesting feature that person has, such as thick, curly hair and think, “Jane has thick, curly hair.” Later, see if you can recall the name along with something interesting you learned about the person.
  5. Nail down numbers. Build up your ability to memorize a progressive series of numbers or items. For phone numbers, for instance, memorize four, then seven, then all ten digits.
  6. “File under ….” To remember lists, try categorizing items. For example, list household tasks under “Bills,” “Cleaning” and “Maintenance.” Or visually map items—memorize a grocery list by aisle location, for instance. Test yourself: Only pull out your written grocery list to double check before checkout.
  7. Keep learning. Learning never stops! Explore new areas of interest, such as history, art (museums are great for this) or biography. Visit the library—find a new book on a subject you’ve always wanted to dig into. Keep a “new learning bucket list” of topics and tackle them one at a time.
  8. Team up with your body. Pair a physical challenge with a mental challenge. For instance, can you stand on one leg for 15 seconds? Now do that while saying the alphabet backwards. Advantage: Physical activity pumps oxygen to your brain.
  9. Practice eye-hand coordination. Play catch, bounce a ball (try juggling for a special challenge!), or enlist a friend to play Frisbee, bocce ball, corn hole, ping pong or pickleball. All get your eyes and hands working together.
  10. Stop and smell the roses. Let nature stimulate your brain by taking a walk and enjoying new scenery. Mind all of your senses and note things you haven’t focused on before, such as bird calls, cloud shapes, the smell of wildflowers or the feel of a gentle breeze.
  11. Pick a new passion. Learn a new talent or take up a new hobby, such as a musical instrument, foreign language, knitting, origami, or a new cooking technique or cuisine. Check out classes online or books and DVD courses from your local library.
  12. Practice problem solving. Many people love puzzles and there’s something for every age, even grandkids. Good choices: jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, chess, checkers, Yahtzee and card games. Have a non-puzzle problem to solve? Brainstorm solutions with a friend—write them down and compare lists. Did they have some you didn’t consider?

Bonus tip: Get 40 winks—at least. Last but arguably the most important tip to staying sharp is to get restful sleep. How well you sleep affects your thinking the following day, including problem solving, judgment and response times. Continued lack of sleep is linked to chronic diseases and dementias. On the plus side, sleep helps your brain learn and reenergize.

Are you or someone you love struggling with memory, and interested to learn how our therapists and trainers can help? Contact Ageility at [email protected] to learn about our memory programs.