Maintaining Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health for the Person with Memory Loss
The course of the disease is different for everyone which is why it is so important to focus on maintaining the highest quality of life possible. Many people in the early stage find they are able to continue doing many of the things they enjoy, and they should be encouraged to do so. However, don’t become alarmed or discouraged if there are days it becomes harder for the person living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia to stay involved in daily activities. When this happens, consider suggesting things they enjoy like taking a walk, going shopping, or talking with a friend. Be aware of the tendency to isolate oneself from life and those they love as this can be a sign of depression.
Research has shown that a good diet and regular exercise can help a person stay strong and healthy. In fact, exercise is emerging as a very beneficial way to boost brain health. Studies show that as little as 30 minutes of brisk walking each day can improve blood flow to the brain and elevate your mood. Practicing tai chi is shown to reduce stress, improve balance, and increase energy levels. Besides being a fun social activity, dancing is another good way to relieve tension, and it can also help burn excess calories. Other types of exercise including bicycling, running, working out at the gym, skating, and swimming can all be beneficial to the health of a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
It is important, though, to choose activities that are appropriate for the person’s physical abilities and fitness levels. Don’t push them to do things that are frightening. A lack of confidence can lead to injuries.
Research supports the importance of exercising the brain. Although there is no evidence that brain exercises will improve the memory of a person with Alzheimer’s, there is absolutely no harm in keeping your brain stimulated and active.
Some of the ways you can give your person a mental workout are by taking a class together, playing cards or word games such as Scrabble, listening to music, attending lectures, visiting museums, and by engaging in thought-provoking discussions with friends or family. The goal is to create fun challenges by doing activities that the person doesn’t normally do.
People who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia often find that talking about their situation can be helpful. They may experience feelings of isolation, sadness, fear, frustration, or anger, and so may you! Consider joining a group with other early-stage people. A support group can provide you with a comfortable outlet for expressing your feelings. A support group is also a place where you can talk about what it’s like to cope with this diagnosis and get good advice from others who are in the same situation as you are. Participation in support groups helps people feel like they’re not alone and that others understand what they’re going through when friends and family may not truly “get it.”