Why You Should Consider Personal Training For Someone With Alzheimer’s or Dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there have been over 44 million diagnosed cases of Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease worldwide (that is more than the entire Canadian population!) [1].

Although there are currently no treatments available to stop these diseases from progressing, there have been many forms of therapeutic relief developed to manage some of the symptoms.

Common Therapeutic Options:

Medication has been the most widely used and popular intervention method. While some types may be effective at reducing or eliminating some symptoms, they often lead to unwanted side effects.

Cholinesterase inhibitors, one of the main types of drugs used to treat cognitive symptoms of Dementia, have been shown to induce hallucinations, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, nausea, aggression and muscle pain in many individuals.

Simply put, while medications might solve one problem, they can essentially create another. This will lead to minimal improvement in an individual’s quality of life.

Participation in group activities has also been a widely used method for individuals dealing with early, mid and late stage Dementia. These activities are relatively easy to implement in larger group settings such as nursing and retirement homes, but more challenging for individuals who are living alone or with family and rely on others for transportation to and from events and appointments.

It is worthwhile to note that group activities are not always fully embraced by individuals suffering from Dementia; especially those with documented behavioural issues such as aggression.

Consider this Alternative:

What if I told you there was a way to lower many of the negative symptoms associated with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease while at the same time improving quality of life? Sounds too good to be true right?

Well hold onto your hats because I am about to share one of the “hidden gems” used to help manage Dementia symptoms that you may not have considered. Personal Training!

The evidence surrounding the effectiveness of regular exercise in healthy individuals is overwhelming. Most people know regular exercise will significantly lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 Diabetes and some cancers [2,3,4].

But not many are aware of the substantial benefit of regular supervised exercise in individuals dealing with cognitive impairment as well. People who regularly perform aerobic exercise, such as walking biking or swimming, have greater scores on neuropsychological function and performance tests that measure cognitive function [5,6,7]. Some of these functions include attentional control, inhibitory control, memory and cognitive flexibility.

Training Someone With Dementia:

It is no secret that instructing individuals living with Dementia to perform appropriate exercises and stretches safely can be a big challenge.

Supervision in the form of a group exercise setting is an option that might work for a select few. But for those who have progressed a little further with their illness or who require special attention (like most individuals dealing with Dementia), this is not a practical or effective solution.

In my experience, one on one personal training with an experienced and educated health professional is one of the easiest, safest and most effective methods to manage Dementia symptoms with minimal side effects. If anything, the individual might experience a variety of unexpected positive side effects such as:

  • Improved mood
  • Decreased fall risk
  • Better sleep
  • Improved memory
  • Stable blood sugar and insulin levels

Regular supervised one on one exercise sessions also add much needed face to face interaction and stimulation that many elderly individuals do not get nearly enough of. The benefits of this alone can be significant and are well documented [8].

Work With a Pro:

Only experienced and regulated health professionals should be programming and supervising exercise sessions for individuals diagnosed with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

At Stephen Fitness & Rehabilitation, we offer personal training and physiotherapy services specifically designed for these individuals.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one become stronger more mobile and independent in the comfort of their own home!

References:

[1] “Alzheimer’s and Dementia in Canada” . Alzheimer’s Association. Retrieved 18 August 2020.

[2] “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults”. American Heart Association. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 18 August 2020.

[3] Mishra, Shiraz I., et al. “Exercise interventions on health‐related quality of life for cancer survivors.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 8 (2012).

[4] Gleeson, Michael. “Immune function in sport and exercise.” Journal of applied physiology 103.2 (2007): 693-699.

[5] Erickson, Kirk I., Charles H. Hillman, and Arthur F. Kramer. “Physical activity, brain, and cognition.” Current opinion in behavioral sciences 4 (2015): 27-32.

[6] Paillard, Thierry, Yves Rolland, and Philipe de Souto Barreto. “Protective effects of physical exercise in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease: a narrative review.” Journal of clinical neurology 11.3 (2015): 212-219.

[7] Erickson, Kirk I., Regina L. Leckie, and Andrea M. Weinstein. “Physical activity, fitness, and gray matter volume.” Neurobiology of aging 35 (2014): S20-S28.

[8] Umberson, Debra, and Jennifer Karas Montez. “Social relationships and health: A flashpoint for health policy.” Journal of health and social behavior 51.1_suppl (2010): S54-S66.