Working Out the Best Workout Plan for Dementia
Exercise is one of those things that usually finds its way onto your list of New Year’s resolutions, then eventually gets lost. We think of the benefits exercise has for the body, whether it be maintaining our health or recovering from illness or accident. When a person has dementia, we might think exercise and activity would be wasted on someone who has limited responsibility and responsiveness, and perhaps little time left to enjoy life, such as it is. But that is far from the truth.
Exercise and activity benefit the mind as well as the body, especially for someone afflicted with dementia. After all, a dementia patient is still a person with a body and soul that need stimulation and training. A well-planned and well-managed exercise routine can increase the quality of life of your loved one by providing them with pleasure and purpose. It can also help when dealing with challenging behaviors.
Exercise and activity don’t necessarily mean hiking down to the local fitness club or cluttering up the house with barbells and designer sneakers; a little common sense and advice from a medical professional can start you and your loved one on that path to purpose and pleasure.
Bodily exercise is basically any activity that increases the heart rate. This can be as simple as walking, as helpful as housework, and as much fun as dancing! Mental exercises can range from playing word or card games, to gently reviewing bills and finances, to having conversations about sports, family, flowers, and anything that interests them. Just about anything that makes your loved one feel useful, safe, loved, and happy, is fair game.
For a comprehensive but easy-to-follow summary of the benefits of, and steps to implement, an exercise and activity program, visit Dementia - activities and exercise, from BetterHealthChannel, State of Victoria, Australia. This site also included safety tips for patients and helpful resources for caregivers (Note: The BetterHealthChannel site is based in Australia, but similar resources may be available in your area.). Another informative and supportive source for activities is the Daily Care Activities page, from Alzheimer’s Association.
Remember, with the proper advice and planning, an exercise plan for your dementia patient can benefit him or her in many ways. And maybe, a little exercise won’t hurt you, either!
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