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Aged Care Issues: Slowing the Onset of Dementia By Making Simple Lifestyle Changes (Part 2)

Part 2: Making daily physical activity part of your routine


Dementia is becoming an important topic in aged care in Australia. In the
first installment of this series on slowing the onset of dementia, we discussed how research has shown that proper diet and nutrition are key components to good cognitive health. In the elderly, this means including a regime nutritional supplements to avoid developing deficiencies.

This second part of our three part series explains how incorporating exercise into your daily routine can slow or even prevent the dementia.

First, let’s look at what we mean when use the terms “exercise” or  “physical activity”. For the purposes of this article, we use these expressions interchangeably to mean any activity requiring physical effort.

Some medical reasons for dementia include pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, and depression. By controlling these conditions, even mild, pre-clinical conditions that do not meet diagnostic criteria for a physician, you may prevent dementia.

Physical activity may not only help to control the three conditions mentioned in this paragraph, it makes you feel great! Just 30 minutes of light exercise a day can make a significant difference to your health, and drastically change your circumstances on entering an aged care environment.

Here are a few things you can do to add daily exercise into your life.
  • Exercise in the morning after a balanced breakfast. You will have the most energy at this time of day. If this time of day doesn’t work for you, select another time of day that does, and do your exercise at the same time each and every day.
  • Going for a walk is a simple form of exercise to incorporate. Walk at a pace at which you feel your heart rate and breathing rate increase from its resting state. If the weather isn’t cooperating with your plans, walking up and down the hallways works if you live in a building, or get yourself to the local shopping mall for another sheltered option.
  • Other forms of exercise popular with the elderly include exercise classes designed for seniors, aquafit, and swimming. For those with mobility concerns, chair exercise classes led by qualified instructors are available in aged care residences and community centres. With all exercise, the key to getting a benefit is raising the heart rate and breathing rate.

Consult your doctor before you or your loved one begins any new exercise program. In addition to the many physical benefits it provides, exercise can help keep your mind working efficiently throughout your life.

The time of you or your loved one in aged care will be easier and more enjoyable by making these small modifications to lifestyle and wellbeing.


Additional resources on this topic:
http://alzheimers.org.uk/factsheet/529
http://www.fightdementia.org.au/common/files/NAT/YBMPaper36_webfinal.pdf
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