Helen Drain, dementia trainer & deputy training team leader at Christies Care (christiescare.com), talks about the benefits of exercise for a person with dementia…
Taking part in regular physical exercise is thought to reduce the risk of developing dementia and it can make the mind mentally sharper. According to Alzheimer’s Society, several studies that look at the effect of aerobic exercise in the middle aged or older people have shown improvements in thinking and memory.
Combined results of 11 studies have shown that regular exercise can significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia by about 30 per cent and for Alzheimer’s disease specifically the risk was reduced by 45 per cent. (Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.)
The charity says: ‘Of all the lifestyle changes that have been studied, taking regular physical exercise appears to be one of the best things that you can do to reduce your risk of getting dementia.’
You may think it’s too late for you or a loved one if there’s already been a diagnosis of dementia, but there are still benefits to be gained. Exercise will improve blood flow to the brain and boost mood as well as general wellbeing. It can also improve strength and balance, leading to a reduced risk of falls. Dementia Help’s co-director, Peter Berry, who has early onset Alzheimer’s, believes that his love of cycling helps him to ‘leave dementia at home for a while’ and lifts his mood and self-esteem. ‘It makes me feel more like the person I used to be, rather than the person I’ve become,’ Peter says.
Peter’s love of cycling inspired him to come up with the idea of doing the Dementia Help Cycle Challenge, of which Christies Care is a proud sponsor. He and his colleagues, managing director Christina Neal and website editor Dave Collison, will be cycling 330 miles across the country in June to raise vital funds for Young Dementia UK (https://www.youngdementiauk.org). Peter credits cycling for helping him to maintain a positive attitude. ‘I just feel better when I’ve been out for a ride on my bike, even if I occasionally get lost it doesn’t matter,’ he says.
Regular exercise can also lead to better sleep and encourage a loved one with dementia to have social interaction. If your loved one has dementia, encourage them to go out with you for a walk if they can or to be as active at home as possible. Walking, jogging, house work or gardening are all ideal. Looking at and taking in nature can lift the spirits as well as being a social link. If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, it’s also a good chance for you to spend quality time together. The pressure to talk can be removed when you are taking part in an activity together as you are both taking in the scenery and enjoying the day in companionable silence.
To sponsor the Dementia Help team, visit, https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/TeamDementiaHelp