Exercise is for all your muscles, including (and especially) the brain. For individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, physical activity should be continued for as long as possible in order to prevent muscle weakness and other health complications associated with inactivity. Obviously, the intensity and amount of exercise will vary depending on the person’s level of impairment. People in the early stages of these diseases may enjoy fairly active and social exercises such as walking, bowling, dancing, golf, and swimming, although supervision may be necessary and certainly is when the conditions are more advanced. Increased vigilance on the part of the family member or non-family caregiver when engaged in these activities with loved ones or other individuals with these conditions is especially important to ensure the safety of the affected individual/s.
Middle to later stages of Alzheimer’s are often accompanied by higher levels of anxiety and confusion, so loud or overly stimulating exercises should be avoided. The “repetitive” exercises such as walking, indoor bicycling or even activities like folding laundry help to decrease these anxiety levels because the senior does not have to make decisions about the activity or remember what to do next. The more familiar the activity, regardless of level of dementia or disease progression, the easier it is to accomplish a more productive time with the affected individual.
Children’s toys can be good for encouraging hand-eye coordination in individuals with a more advanced level of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These toys should tend to be brightly colored, easy to grasp, and designed for mind-stimulating activity. Additionally, soft clay-like products or stress balls can be squeezed to help strengthen the hands.
Our professional and carefully trained caregivers at AAging Better can help create engaging exercise routines for you or your loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to help keep minds and bodies strong. If you would like to know more about creating a safe and effective “in-home” exercise plan for a senior family member, contact us online or give us a call at 208-777-0308 if you’re in the Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene or Hayden areas; 208-263-7889 if in the Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry or Priest River areas; or 208-784-1505 if you’re in the Kellogg, Pinehurst or Wallace areas for more information about our home care services. We would be happy to set up a free in-home assessment to discuss the needs of your loved one or to provide help in other ways that might be needed.