Effects and feasibility of an exercise intervention for individuals living with dementia in nursing homes: study protocol
Background: Worldwide, there are an estimated 35.6 million individuals living with dementia. It is important that non-pharmacological therapies are utilized to help manage the symptoms of dementia, such as agitation, as they are the recommended first approach in best practice guidelines.
Methods: This protocol outlines a randomized controlled trial with a qualitative component which evaluated the effects and feasibility of a physical therapist-led physical exercise intervention on agitation of individuals living with dementia in nursing homes. Physical performance levels were considered as a secondary outcome. This evidence-based protocol consisted of a range of adaptable physical exercises that targeted strength, balance, endurance, and flexibility. To help determine the optimum parameters for this population group, the study used two intervention groups: (a) physical exercise intervention for 45 minutes once a week; (b) physical exercise intervention for 15 minutes three times a week (total time also 45 minutes per week). Both intervention groups were compared to a control group, which continued to participate in usual care only (no specific physical exercise intervention), such as basic seated exercise class, carpet bowls, and "armchair" activities.
Conclusions: The physical therapist-led physical exercise intervention detailed in this protocol could be integrated into dementia care in nursing homes or other similar settings to help reduce agitation and improve physical performance.