It’s been estimated that over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Foundation. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia which attacks the nerve cells in the brain. It results in a lack of memory and eventually language skills. This can be very difficult, both on the individual suffering from the disease as well as the caregivers looking after them.
The unfortunate truth about this population is that they really need physical exercise and without the assistance of a personal trainer who knows what they’re doing and can guide them accordingly, getting Alzheimer’s patients to exercise on their own and by themselves can be very difficult.
Benefits of Exercise for Alzheimer’s
There is still a great deal about the disease that we don’t know. There are always new trials and new research trying desperately to find a cure, but in the meantime, there is a correlation between fitness and dementia’s effect on cognitive performance. In short, exercise can help to slow down the advancement of the disease.
Furthermore, it’s possible to expand an individual’s social circle while improving fitness levels. Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia often lack social ties, relationships, etc. which help to keep the mind sharp. Exercise is an opportunity to not only help the body but to also help the mind of a dementia patient.
One of the darker aspects to dementia and Alzheimer’s is being confined to one space or another. This is exacerbated by the lack of many social connections the person might have relied on earlier in life, not to mention confusion at the loss of some friends or relatives. It can be quite a traumatic experience when episodes happen.
As such, it’s essential to have in place a robust plan for focusing on mental health and self-esteem. Exercise can play an enormous role in helping to build up higher levels of endorphins in the brain, which will help those with Alzheimer’s to have a more positive demeanor when possible.
The Importance of Fitness Professionals
When dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, it can be dangerous for them to exercise alone. As such, pairing them with fitness professionals can have a multilayered benefit.
For one, it’s another social interaction that the patient wouldn’t otherwise have. Something as simple as a brief conversation about the client’s day could be extremely beneficial to managing the disease. Furthermore, a fitness professional will help to ensure that the patient exercises in a safe and secure atmosphere, significantly decreasing the risk of injury.
One of the most difficult aspects of getting Alzheimer’s and dementia patients to exercise is forming a habit that didn’t exist before the disease. This is another huge benefit that the fitness professional can offer.
Exercise without consistency in practice and schedule can severely inhibit the benefits the patient would otherwise receive. As such, having regularly scheduled sessions at the patient’s residence can provide just that.
Partnering with Doctors
One great way to find patients who could benefit from your services is to contact the medical practices in your area which treat people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. You will be hard pressed to find a doctor who wouldn’t want their patients to exercise more, and to do so in a safer environment. This can be a great strategy for getting more clients as well as providing a desperately needed service.
Helping to care for someone in need is an incredibly rewarding experience in and of itself. Take the time to think about how you might be able to use your own talents and skills to help those who can really use the services of a trained fitness professional. The Medical Fitness Network also seeks to partner healthcare professionals with fitness professionals to do just that.
Visit the FitFixNow blog for more articles from Jane Curth.
Jane Curth is the co-founder and CEO of FitFixNow. Helping people on their wellness journey is her passion; Jane has helped clients and students with their diet and fitness struggles for over 20 years.