Effectiveness of exercise interventions in older people with dementia in terms of functionality and reducing falls: a systematic review
Background: Dementia is a common mental health problem affecting older people with prevalence ranging from 5 to 8% worldwide. Given the gradual progression of the disease, patients’ functional capacity is significantly affected, leading to reduced mobility and increased falls.
Material and Methods: A systematic review was conducted of randomized control trials published in electronic journals reporting the effectiveness of different exercise programs in patients with dementia. The electronic data bases PubMed, Trip Medical Database and Google Scholar were used.
Results: We analysed 21 trials with a total number of 2,120 participants. Nineteen of them showed improvement in functionality, while only 2 did not report any changes. Almost half of the surveys (12 out of 21) found a positive correlation between exercise programs and reducing falls, while in 4 articles the authors did not notice any improvement, in 2 trials reported that exercise is likely to reduce the number of falls, and 3 found a positive correlation of exercise as a way to prevent falls in patients with dementia. The intensity of the exercise programs ranged from moderate to high and their duration from 3 to 12 months. The most common types of exercises included in the programs were balance and strengthening exercises, as well as functional training.
Conclusions: In conclusion, the analysis of the above studies highlights exercise as a beneficial intervention for older people with dementia, in order to improve their functionality and prevent falls. Therefore, further research is needed in order to find the most beneficial types of exercise for dementia patients.