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Pilot work by our group has demonstrated that aquatic exercise has valuable functional and psychosocial benefits for adults living in the residential aged care setting with dementia. The aim of the currents study was to advance this work by delivering the Watermemories Swimming Club aquatic exercise program to a more representative population of older, institutionalized adults with dementia.
The benefits of 12 weeks of twice weekly participation in the Watermemories Swimming Club aquatic exercise program were assessed among an exercise and usual care control group of residential aged care adults with advanced dementia. A battery of physical and psychosocial measures were collected before and after the intervention period, and program implementation was also investigated.
Seven residential aged care facilities of 24 approached, agreed to participate and 56 residents were purposefully allocated to exercise or control. Twenty-three participants per group were included in the final analysis. Both groups experienced decreases in skeletal muscle index and lean mass (p < 0.001), but exercise stifled losses in muscle strength and transition into sarcopenic. Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and activities of daily living approached significance (p = 0.06) with positive trends observed across other psychosocial measures.
This study demonstrates the value of exercise participation, and specifically aquatic exercise in comparison to usual care for older, institutionalized adults with advanced dementia. However, it also highlights a number of barriers to participation. To overcome these barriers and ensure opportunity to residents increased provider and sector support is required.
This pilot investigation aimed to assess the relative and absolute test–retest reliability of commonly used functional performance measures in older adults with dementia residing in residential aged care facilities.
A total of 12 participants were tested on the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), the Balance Outcome Measure for Elder Rehab (BOOMER), hand grip strength, anthropometric measures and Bio-electric Impedance Analysis (BIA). This study utilized a seven-day test–retest evaluation. Intra-class Correlation Coefficients (ICC) were used to assess relative reliability, Typical Error of Measurement (TEM) was used to assess the absolute reliability, and Bland–Altman plots were used to assess group and individual levels of agreement.
With the exception of Standing Balance (ICC = 0.49), 2.4-m walk (ICC = 0.68), functional reach (ICC = 0.38), and static timed standing (ICC = 0.47), all measures demonstrated acceptable (>0.71) ICCs. However, only the anthropometric measures demonstrated acceptable levels of absolute reliability (>10% TEM). Bland–Altman analysis showed non-significant (p > 0.05) mean differences, and eight out of the 17 measures showing wide Limits of Agreement (LoA).
Current measures of functional performance are demonstrably inappropriate for use with a population of older adults with dementia. Authors suggest aligning current measurement strategies with Item Response Theory as a way forward.
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