7 Benefits of Walking for a Senior Parent With Alzheimer’s Disease
If you are the adult child of a senior parent with Alzheimer’s disease, you undoubtedly have significant concerns regarding how you can best enhance the overall health and wellness of your mother or father. In this regard, walking can be helpful regarding your senior parent’s health when he or she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Indeed, there are seven primary benefits to be realized from walking by a senior parent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease:
- Improved strength and balance
- Increased endurance
- Mental stimulation
- Reduced stress levels
- Improved quality of life
- Social interaction
- Lower risk of illness
Essential Overview of Alzheimer’s Disease: What You Need to Know
Before considering the seven benefits of walking for a senior parent with Alzheimer’s, we have a moment to overview some basic information about this disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative neurological disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. It is the most common form of dementia among older adults and affects an estimated 5.7 million people in the United States alone.
The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown. However, it involves the buildup of two proteins: amyloid beta and tau. These proteins form plaques and tangles in the brain, which damage neurons and lead to their destruction over time. This process results in a gradual decline in cognitive functioning, leading to memory loss, difficulty completing daily tasks, confusion, impaired judgment, and changes in personality or mood.
Alzheimer’s is not just a problem of aging. It can affect individuals as young as 30 years old. Early-onset Alzheimer’s appears to run in families, although only about 5 percent of all Alzheimer’s cases are thought to be due to inherited genetic mutations. Late-onset Alzheimer’s has been linked to lifestyle factors, such as low levels of physical activity, poor diet choices, and medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease yet, treatments available can help slow its progression and improve the quality of life for those affected by it. These include medications that target symptoms like memory loss or agitation. In addition, lifestyle modifications can be helpful. These include eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, exercising regularly, staying socially active, reducing stress levels through relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation, and getting adequate rest each night. Further research into gene therapy treatments may provide more promising future treatment options.
In addition to providing care for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease directly, family members must also take steps to care for themselves. In contrast, they support their loved ones struggling with this condition. This includes seeking out emotional support from friends or healthcare professionals when needed; forming an action plan with goals regarding patient care; learning more about the condition; creating ways to manage stress levels during difficult episodes; taking care of one’s own physical health; setting realistic expectations about what can be accomplished with treatment—staying positive about the future despite any obstacles posed by this challenging condition.
Improved Strength and Balance
Walking helps seniors gradually build strength in their muscles while improving their balance through increased coordination. This can help prevent falls, which are common among seniors with Alzheimer’s – especially those with difficulty with motor skills due to the disease.
A regular walking routine can help increase endurance by increasing the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain during activity. With improved heart rate, respiration, and circulation, seniors will feel less tired after being physically active.
Physically demanding activities, such as walking, help stimulate mental acuity by stimulating the production of neurotransmitters in the brain that promote healthy functioning. Seniors who walk regularly may think more clearly or remember small details better than those who do not exercise.
Reduced Stress Levels
Walking helps reduce stress levels through its calming effects on both mind and body, allowing for relaxation and boosts in overall mood. Regular walks can improve sleep patterns, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve self-confidence in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related conditions.
Improved Quality of Life
Exercise has been shown to positively affect the quality of life in seniors suffering from chronic diseases, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, by promoting independence, reducing loneliness, and helping mobility-related issues, such as pain or fatigue, that may be caused by the condition itself or its treatments.
Walking can provide an opportunity for social interaction if done with another person – whether a family member or caregiver – thus aiding cognitive abilities and providing companionship for someone living alone with a chronic illness like Alzheimer’s.
Lower Risk of Illness
Walking provides many health benefits aside from those directly related to chronic diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It also assists in other ways as well, including boosting immunity against colds or flu, lowering the risk of diabetes and hypertension, and reducing cholesterol level risks. As a result, overall health is improved along with lifestyle factors that could otherwise contribute negatively over time without adequate exercise or movement.
Should My Senior Parent With Alzheimer’s Disease Be Permitted to Walk Alone?
The first factor to consider is the stage of Alzheimer’s disease that the patient is in. If the patient is in an early stage, walking alone may still be safe with some supervision and monitoring from family members or caretakers. In moderate stages, some patients may be able to walk without assistance as long as they remain in familiar areas with low traffic and noise levels. However, more advanced cases may require round-the-clock supervision due to an increased risk of becoming lost or confused in unfamiliar places.
Another factor to consider is safety. When someone has Alzheimer’s disease, they can often become easily distracted and forgetful, making them more susceptible to potential risks, like traffic accidents or robberies if they are walking alone. It’s important to ensure that any area where a person with Alzheimer’s might wander has been adequately assessed for potential dangers before allowing them to walk alone. Furthermore, it’s important to ensure that any area they travel through has well-lit streets at night and thoughtful traffic signs to avoid further increasing the risk of danger.
In addition, it is crucial for family members or caretakers accompanying someone with Alzheimer’s on walks to pay close attention to any changes in behavior during their time out together. In many cases, symptoms such as confusion or disorientation can become more prominent if the individual has been walking for too long – this could indicate exhaustion and a need for rest. Vigilance is key when assessing whether someone with Alzheimer’s should continue on a walk independently; if their behavior appears confused or erratic, it could be prudent not to allow them to go by themselves until they have had adequate rest or recovery time afterward.
Ultimately, deciding whether someone with Alzheimer’s disease should be allowed to walk alone depends on numerous factors, including the severity of symptoms and safety concerns; making this decision can be very difficult but sometimes necessary for those living with this disorder. Caretakers should consult with medical professionals before making a final decision regarding independent walks between family members and loved ones affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, taking into account all available information while keeping safety paramount at all times.