Helping a Michigan Senior with Dementia Stay Fit
After the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, caregivers often try to find ways to keep their loved one fit without putting them at increased risk for a fall or other injury. Because the disease can cause damage to the parts of the brain responsible for mobility, it isn’t uncommon for people with Alzheimer’s to struggle with balance. Activities that require complicated movements also can be difficult for them to complete because their abstract thought process may be impaired.
But the benefits of maintaining some form of exercise are proven. People with Alzheimer’s who routinely exercise have less trouble sleeping, are more likely to maintain their weight, and have fewer problems with hips, knees, and other joints. Caregivers also benefit from exercising along with their loved one.
5 Tips for Exercising with a Loved One with Alzheimer’s
What types of exercise are the safest and easiest for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and what else do you need to know to get started? Here are a few tips:
- Get their physician’s approval. Before beginning any new form of exercise, talk with your senior loved one’s primary care physician. Get their recommendations and approval.
- Set realistic goals. If your aging family member’s physician recommends 30 minutes of walking four days a week, start with just 10 or 12 minutes a day and build up.
- Consider the time of day. Many Alzheimer’s experts say exercising in the morning or early afternoon is best for those living with the disease. It helps prevent end-of-day fatigue that can sometimes lead to agitation, wandering, and Sundowner’s Syndrome.
- Exercises to consider. It might help if you have some ideas about the types of exercise you would like to start before you speak with your loved one’s physician. Walking, chair yoga, and resistance bands are all safe and beneficial activities to consider.
- Stay hydrated. Finally, a reminder that people living with Alzheimer’s disease often lose the ability to recognize when they are thirsty. As you exercise together, keep a bottle of water handy for each of you to drink to stay hydrated.
We hope these tips make it easier to begin a simple and safe form of exercise!