Objective: To determine the feasibility and efficacy of a home-based exercise intervention program to improve the functional performance of patients with Alzheimer's Disease (AD).
Methods: Twenty-seven home-dwelling patients with AD were randomized to either an exercise intervention program delivered by their caregivers or a home safety assessment control. Measures of functional performance (primary), cognition, neuropsychiatric symptoms, quality of life and caregiver burden (secondary) were obtained at baseline and at 6 and 12 weeks following randomization. For each outcome measure, intent-to-treat analyses using linear random effects models were performed. Feasibility and adverse events were also assessed.
Results: Adherence to the exercise program was good. On the primary outcomes (functional performance) patients in the exercise group demonstrated a trend for improved performance on measures of hand function and lower extremity strength. On secondary outcome measures, trends toward worse depression and lower quality of life ratings were noted.
Conclusions: The physical exercise intervention developed for the study, delivered by caregivers to home-dwelling patients with AD, was feasible and was associated with a trend for improved functional performance in this group of frail patients. Given the limited efficacy to date of pharmacotherapies for AD, further study of exercise intervention, in a variety of care setting, is warranted.