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!
Hidden Meadows on the Ridge is a senior care community in Upper Bucks County, less than 30 miles north of Philadelphia. With 54 private and shared living studies, Hidden Meadows on the Ridge provides a peaceful setting where seniors can maintain their independence while having access to professional personalized services and nursing care. Hidden Meadows on the Ridge is a pet-friendly community. The Laurels, our newly-designed memory care residence, offers 48 private and shared rooms. Tucked in the beautiful, serene, Bucks County countryside, Hidden Meadows on the Ridge understands and addresses seniors’ concerns of preserving their independence while maintaining their physical health and safety, their mental health, and providing peace of mind for family members and caregivers. See http://www.hiddenmeadowsontheridge.com.
Is It a Good Idea to Take a Dementia Patient to a Fireworks Display?
For Americans, the Fourth of July is a day to celebrate freedom and independence. John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that what we now call Independence Day “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” It is a day of joyous, raucous celebration. However, for loved ones suffering from dementia, there is little freedom and independence.
In fact, loud noises and a flurry of activity can trigger negative emotions and reactions. Motorcycles, loud cars, airplanes, barking dogs, fireworks — many common sounds can cause the patient to become distressed and agitated.
So, is it a good idea to take your loved one to a fireworks display? It depends, and the results can be unpredictable. If he or she has shown signs of distress at loud noises, it might be best to forego the festivities, or at least the noisy parts.
Greg grew up in an active family, and his love of the outdoors carried on throughout his life. But when the keen rock climber started having nerve problems in both wrists that made it difficult for him to grip tightly, he knew he needed help. At first, he thought it was carpal tunnel caused by the repetitive flexing needed in the sport. But after further testing, Greg was diagnosed with hereditary ATTR amyloidosis (hATTR) — the same disease that had robbed his beloved older brother of his independence, ability to function and eventually, his life.
“I was absolutely devastated when they told me I had what my brother had. At first, I just refused to accept it,” said Greg. At the time, he didn’t know that hATTR amyloidosis is hereditary and has a genetic link. But with the support of his wife and family, Greg vowed to do everything he could to learn about the condition.
He consulted resources such as hATTR Change the Course and learned that, in people with hATTR, an abnormal protein called amyloid builds up in multiple organs of the body where it should not be. This amyloid buildup causes these organs to stop working normally. Symptoms of hATTR are varied and include digestive problems, as well as nerve damage that can cause changes in balance and coordination.
“hATTR amyloidosis is a rare, and ultimately fatal disease that often affects the nerves, heart and kidneys,” said Daniel Lenihan, M.D., professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and a world-renowned expert on hATTR. “The condition can have multiple symptoms that can seem disconnected, and a genetic test can confirm diagnosis.”
Where Is Dad on Father’s Day?
Family holidays can be stressful. When the family is around, there can be much preparation for the joyous occasion. If the family is absent due to physical or emotional distance, or even death, there is emotional stress of another kind. But what if your loved one is nearby and far away at the same time?
According to Alissa Sauer’s blog at alzheimers.net, Over 16 million people in the United States alone care for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. While the caregiving journey can be rewarding, it is no secret that it can also be overwhelmingly challenging.
As the disease progresses, it becomes easier to forget that your loved one is still present. Many caregivers are frustrated by their loved one’s inability to communicate their thoughts and their inability to remember faces and names. The disease eventually takes away independence so that caregivers become the feet, hands and mind of people struggling with dementia.
Many people who have the disease struggle with depression and some can become violent, further increasing frustration for caregivers. But, despite all these challenges, if you care for and love someone with dementia, it can be extremely rewarding and although it may not be obvious, your loved one is still there, behind the disease.
Although it is painful to witness the progression of the disease, you must remember that your loved one has no control over its effects. When things get difficult and tempers flare, harsh words are spoken, or you suddenly become a stranger in a strange land, it is the disease manifesting itself. Although he or she may seem like a different person, they are still Mom or Dad or Aunt Sally or Uncle Jack.
So, on Father’s Day, if your dad is struggling with dementia, don’t let the disease get the best of you. In fact, he probably needs your love now more than ever. The roles have been reversed; it’s your turn to take care of him. In fact, love and compassion go — and grow — hand-in-hand. Literally.
Hidden Meadows on the Ridge is a senior care community in Upper Bucks County, less than 30 miles north of Philadelphia. With 54 private and shared living studies, Hidden Meadows on the Ridge provides a peaceful setting where seniors can maintain their independence while having access to professional personalized services and nursing care. Hidden Meadows on the Ridge is a pet-friendly community. The Laurels, our newly-designed memory care residence, offers 48 private and shared rooms. Tucked in the beautiful, serene, Bucks County countryside, Hidden Meadows on the Ridge understands and addresses seniors’ concerns of preserving their independence while maintaining their physical health and safety, their mental health, and providing peace of mind for family members and caregivers. See http://www.hiddenmeadowsontheridge.com/.
Depression is more than just feeling sad or blue. It is a common but serious mood disorder that needs treatment. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, and working.
When you have depression, you have trouble with daily life for weeks at a time. Doctors call this condition “depressive disorder” or “clinical depression.”
Depression is a real illness. It is not a sign of a person’s weakness or a character flaw. You can’t “snap out of” clinical depression. Most people who experience depression need treatment to get better.
Depression Is Not a Normal Part of Aging
Depression is a common problem among older adults, but it is NOT a normal part of aging. In fact, studies show that most older adults feel satisfied with their lives, despite having more illnesses or physical problems. However, important life changes that happen as we get older may cause feelings of uneasiness, stress, and sadness.
For instance, the death of a loved one, moving from work into retirement, or dealing with a serious illness can leave people feeling sad or anxious. After a period of adjustment, many older adults can regain their emotional balance, but others do not and may develop depression.
Get Immediate Help
- If you are thinking about harming yourself, tell someone who can help immediately.
- Do not isolate yourself.
- Call your doctor.
- Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help, or ask a friend or family member to help you.
- Call the toll-free, 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889).
Recognizing Symptoms of Depression in Older Adults
Depression in older adults may be difficult to recognize because they may show different symptoms than younger people. For some older adults with depression, sadness is not their