Can exercise help people with Alzheimer's?

Discussion in 'Younger people with dementia and their carers' started by splatz, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. splatz

    splatz Registered User

    Jul 28, 2006
    5
    bedfordshire
    I am sure everybody has read the news reports about growing evidence that increasing your levels of exercise can help stave off the onset of Alzheimer's, but is anyone aware of any research on people with Alzheimer's increasing their exercise?

    I only ask because my father has just been moved into a nursing home which does not have much space for patients to move around in. As a result he seems to spend most of his time sat in a chair doing nothing.
     
  2. MrsP

    MrsP Registered User

    Mar 19, 2005
    115
    Dear Splatz

    As physiotherapist myself I have to say that keeping the body as physically active as possible is beneficial in many ways. Pressure sores, blood clots, muscle weakening, reduced joint movement and chest infections can all be caused by a lack of mobility. Simple exercises that can be done in lying, sitting or standing can help, but walking is probably the best form of exercise. However, it is obviously very difficult to get someone with dementia to follow an exercise regime, but if you are interested it may help to contact your Father's GP and ask for a referral to a mental health physio who should be able to give advice.

    It is an unfortunate reality that most (not all) nursing homes have little room to move, and even if there is space, not all of the staff are happy to give clients the opportunity to move around. In many NH's that I have visited, I have left instructions for staff to safely walk patients but the advice is ignored as it is easier to put a person in a wheelchair and wheel them around. This is especially frustrating when you are trying to keep at least a tiny bit of independence for the person involved, which is then taken away due to lack of time on the staff's behalf. I would recommend speaking with the staff about your Father's care plan to ensure that he is allowed to walk as often as possible if it is safe to do so.

    At some stage walking may become very limited, as you may have seen on other threads. Again, I would reccomend speaking to a GP to get as much help from physio's and/or occupational therapists as possible.

    I haven't seen any evidence to show that exercise can help with the symptoms of AD, although it can reduce signs of depression in early stages. I hope my ramblings have been of some use. Take care, love Kate x.
     
  3. Lucille

    Lucille Registered User

    Sep 10, 2005
    542
    #3 Lucille, Nov 3, 2006
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2006
    Hello

    I think exercise is beneficial to everyone who can undertake it. I went to a lecture given by Professor Gordon Willcock who is well respected in the field of Alzheimer's research. One thing that he said, that stuck with me, is that we should all take more exercise; drink less and stop smoking, if we are going to help ourselves in terms of our future brain health (as well as heart). I appreciate that there are some very fit non-smoking, non-drinking people who have been affected by this awful disease, but if we can do as much as we can then I guess it's a start.

    :)
     
  4. splatz

    splatz Registered User

    Jul 28, 2006
    5
    bedfordshire
    Hi Kate,

    Your 'ramblings' as you call them have been helpful - so thank you. It doesn't help much that my father and other younger patients with AD are housed on the second floor of the NH. The ground floor is exclusively for the wheel chair bound patients. The ground floor has full access to the garden.

    I am sure that my father and the other younger more able bodied AD patients on the second floor would benefit if they had unrestricted access to the garden - if only to be able to move arround more. The health benefits you mentioned seem to suggest a strong argument for good health, even though it sounds like there isn't any AD benefits (or that there has been no study on AD benefits).

    Unfortunately second floor patients can only be taken to the garden if they are accompanied by care staff. My father, like many AD sufferers, has trouble communicating and thus is unlikely to 'ask' if he could go to the garden. So unless staff take the initiative, he wouldn't get an opportunity.

    I will raise this at the next care meeting to see if his care plan could be changed.

    Thanks again,

    Steve (aka splatz)



     
  5. Nell

    Nell Registered User

    Aug 9, 2005
    1,170
    Australia
    Steve, I hope you will forgive a little levity on my part. My Mum has AD and my darling husband is my greatest supporter. He read recently that research showed that drinking fresh juice daily helps avoid AD, so he has started us on a daily fruit regime. Someone asked him the other day how it was going. "Well" he replied "it could be great but Nell forgets to drink it!" We both laughed inordinately. Sadly, though, I don't think that reaearch has found anything that can slow AD down once it has taken hold. Nell
     
  6. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,896
    Kent
    I recently joined Sparkpeople, a diet and fitness web site recommended by Margarita, to whom I shall be eternally grateful.

    An important part of the programme is exercise, cardio, strength building and stretching. This needs to be done by rota, every day.

    My husband does them with me, a] because he has always liked exercise and was physically fitter than I was, and b] because he doesn`t like being by himself and wants to do what I do.

    He is stiff and his movement is awkward, but he really has benefitted from it. His balance has improved, he is able to get in and out of the bath easier and he has a feeling of well being and satisfaction afterwards.

    We also have a good laugh at each other, and at ourselves, when we find certain exercises difficult, especially floor exercises. Getting down on the floor and up again is difficult for both of us and we are often in fits of laughter at our ungainly antics.

    This shared activity, does wonders for his self esteem too, and if anything needs a boost, that does.

    Exercise? Highly recommended.
     
  7. zed

    zed Registered User

    Jul 25, 2005
    76
    London
    Exercise is very good for the mood, so I should imagine this may help people with AD too, as it can increase the seratonin in the brain which makes us feel happier.
     
  8. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    1,342
    I encouraged my mother to exercise as much as possible and for a few months it seemed to work.

    If it had been left to others she'd have become much more atrophied and had worse bedsores as a result. (People wanted to give her a commode, and a baby's bottle.)

    And the more she moved around, pottering round the garden, visiting neighbours, walking to the post box and to the park at the end of the road, the better she was mentally too. People were so surprised to see her out and about again, after seeing the way she was last November (scrunched into foetal position and only eating if spoonfed).

    Of course it all depended on her being willing to co-operate.
     

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