As the American population continues to age, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease will increase. The Alzheimer’s Organization estimates that in 2017, 5.5 million Americans were living with the disease. And without any major treatment breakthroughs, by 2050 that number is expected to nearly triple to 13.8 million Americans. So if you don’t know anyone suffering from Alzheimer’s today, chances are good that you eventually will. With that in mind, we believe it’s important to increase our collective Alzheimer’s expertise so we can all be prepared to confront this coming epidemic.
Few Treatment Options
Currently there are few effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. But regular exercise is proven to have positive impacts on dementia patient’s overall health. They include:
- Improving heart health and reducing the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
- Reducing the risk of some cancers like breast and colon.
- Improving physical fitness and maintaining strong muscles, bones, and joints. This may allow some patients to live independently for longer.
- Reduced depression risk, which is often associated with dementia.
And perhaps most importantly, regular exercise improves cognition. In fact, new research shows that exercise can improve memory and ward off mental decline. So if you’re dementia patient, how can you start fitting regular exercise into your daily routine?
Start Slow and Steady
Of course, you should consult your physician before you start any exercise program but assuming you’re physically healthy enough to exercise it’s important to start slow but stay steady with your efforts. For patients with early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to continue to using your mobility for as long as you can. These exercise ideas can help you get off to a great start:
- Gardening: This is a very simple activity that patients at many different levels of ability can participate in. Less mobile patients can prune trees and weed garden beds. More active patients can mow the grass and rake leaves. Plus gardening gives you the added benefits of plenty of fresh air and sunshine.
- Swimming: This is a great whole-body exercise that’s also easy on your joints. Many seniors also enjoy participating in aqua-aerobics classes.
- Walking: Walking is great because you can vary the intensity and distance to match anyone’s ability. This activity is also free and can be done anywhere.
As Alzheimer’s progresses, patients often begin to lose their mobility. But even then, it’s still possible to stay active. Many seniors participate in seated exercise programs that help build muscle strength and balance and are less strenuous than many standing exercises. You can often find group exercise classes that will also connect you with other local seniors.
Exercise in Later Stage Alzheimer’s
Staying active during the later stages of Alzheimer’s is challenging and often require the help of a caregiver. But it is possible. Often the best kind of exercise is to simply stand up and move around. This helps keep joints and muscles strong and improves circulation. If your balance is unreliable, you’ll want to move with the help of a walker or a supportive companion to avoid falls. Other ways of staying active include balance and stretching exercises, and seated exercise programs.
Skilled Caregivers Can Help
If you or someone you love is suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementia-causing diseases, a skilled caregiver can help include regular exercise into your daily routine. They can offer valuable reminders to stay active and help keep you steady and safe while you work out. If you live in the Phoenix-metro area, Generations Home Care can provide a skilled caregiver who’ll work inside your home on a regular basis. If you’d like to learn more, you can contact us by phone at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the form on our contact page. Living with Alzheimer’s can be difficult, but by participating in regular exercise, you’ll give yourself the best chance at a higher quality-of-life.