Why Alzheimer's Patients And Their Caregivers Need Exercise

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Why Alzheimer's Patients And Their Caregivers Need Exercise

4 August 2015
 Categories: , Blog

Alzheimer's is a troubling condition that makes life difficult for both the patient and the loved ones taking care of them. If you're struggling to care for someone with this condition, try to integrate physical exercise into your lives. It will bring a myriad of benefits to you both. 

Benefits of Physical Exercise

There are many benefits of exercise for Alzheimer's patients. While it can't actually increase the cognitive skills of a person with the disease, it has been shown to decrease the severity of many of its symptoms, such as agitation, anxiety, and depression.

Physical exercise also helps keep their muscles and bones strong and increases oxygen flow to the brain. In fact, these stress relieving benefits of exercise will also manifest in you should you elect to exercise with your loved one.

Getting Them to Start

Now that you understand why exercise is so important to your loved one with Alzheimer's, you face the toughest task of all: getting them started. Many of them will either outright reject the idea of exercise or simply feel unable to perform.

Patience and persistence are necessary in this situation: if they have a very negative reaction the first time you suggest it, drop it and wait a few days. Often, they'll have either forgotten their initial rejection or will have opened up to the idea.

Next, try taking them to a gym to get an idea for the type of exercises you want to perform. You don't have to perform exercises at the gym if it makes them uncomfortable: but seeing what they'll be doing may calm their nerves about the situation.

Appropriate Exercises

Not every exercise is going to be appropriate for someone with Alzheimer's. This is especially true if they are elderly or physically limited. However, there are a few simple exercises that should be appropriate for both of you. These exercises include:

  • Walking

  • Water aerobics

  • Stretching

  • Yoga

  • Light gardening

  • Swimming

Make sure you perform the exercise along with them. This will not only motivate them to work harder, but may help bring you closer together as people.

Tips for Effective Exercise

While you exercise, it's a good idea to keep pretty strict guidelines. For example, keep the activity level low when you first start: 10 minutes may be all either of you can handle. Once you're both acclimated to 10 minutes, slowly work up to 30 minutes, increasing by five minutes every couple of days.

Other exercise tips include:

  • Placing them near a wall if they need support
  • Eliminating hazards on the floor they may not see
  • Holding their hand if they get uncomfortable or agitated
  • Warming up before and stretching out after each routine
  • Talking them through the routine to keep them focused

This guide gives you a good head start towards getting your loved one up and active. And hopefully performing this exercise with them will not only bring you closer in the twilight of their years but make exercise an important part of your everyday life. For further information, contact a local assisted living center, such as River Grand Senior Living.