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Should Your Loved One with Alzheimer's Be Getting More Exercise?

We all know that staying physically active is good for our bodies and our minds. But what about individuals with Alzheimer’s disease? Can physical activity have a positive impact on them as well? The good news is, yes! Several studies have provided strong evidence that physical activity is good for individuals with dementia, including Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that physical activity is not only a valuable part of any overall body wellness plan, but is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline.

If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, you might be wondering how to add some physical exercise into their routine. How can you get them up and moving without causing too much disruption? Here are some tips:

  1. Keep it simple. Don’t present your loved one with a battery of complex exercises. Try to limit each exercise session to only a few simple activities. A simple march in place, followed by some arm exercises might be a good start. You may also be able to find a local gym or memory care community with exercise classes. Ask if you can have your loved one participate.  
  2. Make sure your loved one is wearing proper footwear and clothing. Consider your floor surface. Socks should have grippers to avoid slipping, shoes should be soft and flat to avoid a fall.
  3. Keep your loved one hydrated. Always start each session with a bottle of water nearby. Be sure to stop periodically to encourage your loved one to sip water in between exercises.
  4. Add music to your exercise routine. Try playing some music that is familiar to your loved one and that keeps a gentle beat to encourage movement.
  5. Take a short walk. Walking is great exercise, but make sure that your loved one has the stamina to take a walk and keep your walks short. Always keep pace alongside and make sure that, to be extra safe, your loved one has identification on them at all times.

Try to keep your exercise sessions as consistent as possible. Make alterations to your routine to keep it interesting and ensure that your loved one is enjoying the activity. And always be on the lookout for signs of fatigue.

At Anthem Memory Care communities, we tailor physical fitness activities to meet each individual’s abilities, endurance levels, and preferences. We recognize that, when it comes to exercise, one size does not fit all. Above all, it is important to make sure the exercise sessions remain enjoyable. That way, instead of a chore, it becomes something that both of you will look forward to.