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Rehabilitation and physiotherapy for people with dementia

Dementia can affect your ability to move around and participate in activities. Each person experiences the dementia differently, but you might experience physical changes like:

  • slower reaction time
  • weaker muscles
  • poor co-ordination
  • trouble doing more than one thing at a time, like carrying a cup of tea while walking
  • balance problems, including falls.

You might also experience trouble with finding your way around, identifying objects and communicating.

There are many ways to get help with these issues. In this video, Professor Lee-Fay Low, discusses rehabilitation for people with dementia, including:

  • cognitive therapies
  • occupational therapy
  • exercise therapy
  • psychological therapies.

Lee-Fay Low is joined by Dementia Advocate Bobby Redman, talking about her own experience, including practical tips.

Dementia expert webinar: moving forward with dementia using rehabilitation, with Professor Lee-Fay Low


Physiotherapy can be a very useful part of managing your life with dementia. A physiotherapist can help you with things like:

  • early post-diagnostic clinical care, to help optimise brain health, strength and balance through rehabilitation, exercise and physical activity
  • training families and carers to help with enablement or reablement activities
  • providing advice about aids like walking sticks or frames
  • providing advice about complicated movement issues including use of machines such as wheelchairs and mechanical hoists
  • working with families or carers to address changed behaviours that may relate to unmet needs
  • assessing non-verbal signs of pain and collaborating with other health professionals and carers to effectively manage pain and enhance quality of life
  • providing clinical care and rehabilitation for other physical conditions, like stroke or arthritis.

Physiotherapists are experts in prescribing tailored, purposeful and meaningful activities and exercises for you. They can work with you individually or as part of a team to support your physical and cognitive needs.

Physiotherapy can help improve your quality of life and independence by:

  • improving your motor skills, like gait and balance
  • reducing your frailty
  • reducing your number of falls and fractures
  • slowing your cognitive decline
  • improving your cognition, agitation and mood.

Early intervention with physiotherapy is the key to assessing, treating and achieving positive outcomes but studies have shown that access to physiotherapy is not offered in a timely manner for people with dementia.

To find out how you can start working with a physiotherapist, talk to your doctor.

Dementia expert webinar: physiotherapy and dementia, with Joanna-lee Tan

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapists (OTs) can help you stay independent by helping you with techniques, equipment and support for your day-to-day activities and home life.

Dementia Australia has a support service where occupational therapists will help you make your home more dementia-friendly.

Dementia expert webinar: how occupational therapy can assist you, with Christina Wyatt
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Last updated
18 March 2024