Caregivers: Keep Fit With a Physical Exercise Program

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by Ray Burow |

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Caregiving is strenuous, so if you’re a caregiver and haven’t started a physical exercise routine, don’t put it off any longer. Better yet, get your loved one started on a physical exercise program, too.

Nobody needs another reminder about the benefits of exercise — they’re as common as TV commercials for storage bins at the start of the new year. However, in this last week of January, I’d like to encourage caregivers to get fit and help their loved ones engage in a fitness program as much as their physical and cognitive limitations will allow.

Caregivers must perform activities every day that require strength, especially if the person they are caring for is bedridden, or has physical limitations that prevent them from getting in and out of bed, rising from a chair, or walking without assistance. A strong core will support caregivers when they are assisting with these tasks.

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Keeping fit and helping the person who is being cared for to get into their best shape will result in fewer mishaps, like a fall at home.

It is helpful, of course, if a patient or loved one has some core strength. If they had a healthy lifestyle before a dementia diagnosis, for example, and they exercised regularly, it may be easier to convince them to stay strong physically by involving them in a daily exercise routine.

But it’s easy for people with Alzheimer’s disease, even in the early stages, to become complacent about exercise and other activities that they once enjoyed. Convincing them to get moving can be challenging. Someone losing interest in what once excited them is a symptom of the disease.

Also, seniors may find it easier to sit and do nothing since their bones and muscles are achy as a result of aging. As with Alzheimer’s disease, there is a connection between age and osteoarthritis, the most common form of “wear and tear” arthritis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the majority of people who are diagnosed with arthritis are under 65, the risk of being diagnosed with the disease increases with age. So, while age isn’t the only contributing factor, nearly 50% of people over 65 report “doctor diagnosed” arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is most commonly found in the hands, knees, and hips. It’s no wonder then that a person plagued with the disease shies away from working painful, swollen joints.

But caregivers shouldn’t give them a pass. Caregivers should speak with their health provider, or enlist a physical therapist to assess a patient’s or loved one’s condition before starting a physical exercise program.

Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.


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