Exercise and Alzheimer's Disease
No matter what our age or health condition, physical activity is good for the body, mind and spirit.
When a loved one is living with Alzheimer's disease or other memory loss, exercise doesn't become any less important. Inactivity can lead to muscle and joint pain, increased agitation, sleep disturbances, and other behaviors that make caregiving more of a challenge.
The National Institute on Aging offers suggestions for helping loved ones with dementia exercise safely:
- Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several 10-minute "mini-workouts" may be best.
- Help get the activity started or join in to make the activity more fun.
- Find time in the morning for exercise.
- Break exercises into simple, easy-to-follow steps.
- Choose comfortable clothes that are suitable for the weather and appropriate shoes that fit well.
- Make sure both you and your loved one drink plenty of water when exercising.
Some activities to try together:
- Take a walk together.
- Do simple tasks around the house, such as sweeping and raking.
- Work in the garden.
- Play music and dance.
- Exercise with videos made for older people. (You can order a free DVD or video on the National Institute on Aging’s Go4Life website.)
- Throw a soft rubber exercise ball back and forth.
- Lift weights or household items such as soup cans.
- Use resistance bands, which you can buy in sporting goods stores. Be sure to follow the instructions.
In a recent Caring Right at Home poll, readers confirmed that the best way to encourage senior loved ones to exercise is to exercise with them. This is a great way to take care of yourself while you are caring for your loved one.
One more reason to be active
New research from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee shows that joining your loved one for a brisk walk or home exercise workout may be especially important for Alzheimer's family caregivers. According to UWM College of Health Sciences professor J. Carson Smith, "Our study suggests that if you are at genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease, the benefits of exercise to your brain function might be even greater than for those who do not have that genetic risk."
Right at Home, Inc. is a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those we serve. We fulfill that mission through a dedicated network of locally owned, franchised providers of in-home care services.