Traditionally January is a month of reflections on the old year and resolutions for the new. Fitness and nutrition are key elements of many resolutions. But families caring for a loved one with dementia are often overwhelmed, particularly after the holidays. Research shows that both Alzheimer’s caregivers and their loved one with dementia greatly benefit from twenty to thirty minutes of moderate intensity walking five times a week. Benefits of this simple plan include:
• decreased caregiver stress, burden, depression
• a slowing of Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages
• improved overall quality of life
A similar study looked at behaviors of the individual with dementia. Moderate to intense exercise decreased neuropsychiatric behaviors. For caregivers dealing with difficult behaviors, this is a viable, non-pharmaceutical approach with great appeal.
If 20-30 minutes seems too much right now, consider a Japanese research initiative that found that 10 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous exercise resulted in 3.2% decrease in non-communicable diseases including dementia, musculoskeletal joint impairment and mortality.
If your loved one is dealing with balance issues, regular higher intensity functional exercise resulted in improved balance. A combined aerobic and non-aerobic exercise approach resulted in improved cognition as well.
Sandy, a Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach client, found that a simple aerobics class at her local YWCA kept her husband with early onset dementia engaged. The class welcomed him, he fulfilled most of the directions, and his humor in the class extended for the remaining morning. Whether it is a simple class at the local YMCA, a program or a shared walk with others, regular exercise of any type is a positive for caregivers with or without their loved one.
If you are finding that caregiving is overtaking self-care, consider contacting Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach for objective well-informed listening and direction. With decades of dementia care experience, Cate has the resources, education and background to be your caregiving advocate.
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