Left to right: Dorie Shandy, occupational therapist; Frances DiGeorge; and Josh Niesen, physical therapist

Rehabilitation can truly help some dementia patients live a better quality of life.


Frances DiGeorge, 94, is one of these patients. Diagnosed with vascular dementia, her decline in cognition stemmed from a lack of blood to her brain. She had been living at a different nursing home but had declined not only cognitively but also physically.


DiGeorge was dealing with osteoarthritis and back pain, in addition to the vascular dementia, when she arrived at Garden Terrace at Overland Park, Kansas, on Oct. 12, 2016.


Therapists assessed DiGeorge and worked closely with her family to enable her to enjoy life more. She started with speech therapy, which focused on helping her with cognition, swallowing and communication, and added physical therapy, which centered on helping her regain strength, range of motion and balance. Finally, she started occupational therapy to relearn daily living tasks like getting dressed and grooming.


“I am impressed with how much more mobile my mother has become,” said DiGeorge’s son. “She was afraid to stand or do anything at the facility she was at prior to Garden Terrace at Overland Park.”


DiGeorge’s walking improved from needing assistance to only needing supervision, while she also improved in her activities of daily living, such as grooming, bathing and getting dressed. Even her cognition and language skills improved, along with her swallowing ability.


After the hard work, DiGeorge graduated from therapy on Feb. 22, 2017.