SHAFAQNA TURKEY – Regular exercise in Alzheimer’s patients, as in all people, improves the functioning of the cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as increases muscle strength and endurance. Exercise, when used in patients with Alzheimer’s disease at any stage, has also been shown to reduce falls and associated fractures. Regular exercise programs are also helpful for some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Medical research has shown that depression and behavioral problems are less common in Alzheimer’s patients who exercise, and their memory and social skills improve.
It is important here that the exercises performed correspond to the period of illness. For this reason, an individual exercise program should be coordinated with a medical specialist.
Suggested exercise program:
Alzheimer’s exercise should provide the patient with increased flexibility, strength, endurance, and balance. An exemplary exercise program may consist of the following steps:
Warm up with 5-minute light stretching exercises
20 minutes of aerobic exercise (walking or stationary bike)
Cool down with stretching exercises for 10 minutes.
The patient is advised to continue this exercise program three or four days a week.
Before starting an exercise program:
You should consult with the patient’s doctor and undergo a medical examination. Health problems such as joint rheumatism and high blood pressure can cause some restrictions on safe exercise.
In order to create an exercise program suitable for the individual, the physiotherapist and rehabilitation specialist must assess the situation and create an appropriate supervised exercise program for the patient.
Exercise sessions should be started very slowly in all patients, sometimes it is recommended to start with an exercise program of only five minutes and increase it by one minute over several months up to 30 minutes.
Each action should be shown to the patient in full, and the patient should be asked to follow it one by one.
It is recommended to diversify classes and make them interesting so that the patient does not get bored.
If there is a sport in the patient’s life that he enjoys doing, it can be guaranteed that he will be able to continue it as long as possible. Other than that, the most appropriate exercise recommendations are:
Walking: This is the cheapest exercise that requires no equipment and can be done almost anywhere. It is also suitable for frequent need to move around, especially in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This must be done in a secure environment and under supervision.
Cycling: If the patient has no knee and hip problems and this is approved by the doctor, an exercise bike can be used.
Strengthening exercises: Light weight training based on the principle of light weight and multiple repetitions can be done in the gym or at home, also under supervision.
Tracking your exercises:
It is important to monitor the improvement of the condition of patients with Alzheimer’s disease during exercise. For this reason, it is necessary to record information such as the patient’s distance traveled, exercise duration, weight lifted, and number of repetitions. For example, an increase in the distance traveled by a person in 5 minutes indicates an improvement in the patient’s aerobic capacity, i.e., endurance.
For outdoor exercises, a safe environment must be created and the patient must be under strict supervision.
The patient should be supervised while working with weights.
The patient should wear suitable thick shoes in case she falls off the weight.
If the patient can speak during exercise, they are considered to be in an aerobically relaxed state. If the patient begins to have difficulty speaking while exercising, it is understood that he needs to slow down a bit.
It is recommended to provide sunscreen and appropriate clothing for outdoor activities, as well as wearing a hat.
The patient should be provided with plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.
If the patient feels tired and weak or experiences any pain, the activity should be stopped and a doctor should be consulted.
It should not be forgotten that physical exercise has a positive effect on many systems in Alzheimer’s patients, as well as on disease outcomes. However, in order to achieve these effects, an exercise program for a particular patient, planned on the recommendation of a doctor, must become a part of life.
prof. Dr. Fusun UYSAL
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