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7 Fitness Tips for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

When a senior loved one lives with Alzheimer’s disease, helping them stay physically active is sometimes difficult. But there are proven benefits that make it worth finding the time to work exercise in to your daily caregiving routine.

Regular exercise can help your loved one sleep better, maintain a healthy weight, and keep their muscles and joints in shape. That can help avoid medical interventions such as knee replacement or high cholesterol that are harder to treat for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. There is also the added benefit of your being able to exercise with them to keep your own health from suffering.

7 Fitness Tips for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

Here are a few quick tips to consider before you introduce a new fitness program to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease:

1.  Talk with their primary care physician to get their approval and suggestions for types of activity they would recommend.

2.  Set realistic expectations for how much your senior loved one can do during each session. If your goal is to walk 30 minutes a day, it might be better to break that up in to two fifteen minute walks and build from there.

3.  Exercise early in the day. Many Alzheimer’s experts believe morning exercise helps prevent late day fatigue that has been linked to behaviors like agitation and sundowner’s syndrome.

4.  Choose types of exercise that need little or no direction. Walking is generally best, but you could also consider some free-spirited dancing to old music or tossing a beach ball back and forth indoors.

5.  For strength training, resistance bands are a gentle, easy-to-perform type of exercise. Talk with your loved one’s physician to see if they recommend a visit with a physical therapist before starting.

6.  Because people with Alzheimer’s disease sometimes lose their ability to recognize thirst, it is important to provide them with water and encourage them to keep drinking while you are exercising.

7.  Finally, be sure they have comfortable walking shoes that fit them properly. The same goes for their workout wear. Clothing should keep them warm or cool depending upon the season.

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