Apr 16, 2013

Exercise Slows the Progression of Alzheimer's and Helps Prevent Falls

For years I felt like I was being treated like the little boy who cried wolf. Well, we beat the wolf called Alzheimer's and so can you.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Exercise Slows the Progression of Alzheimer's and Helps Prevent Falls

In 2004, I made my first important decision as an Alzheimer's caregiver, I decided to take my mother into the gym and work her out.

So at the age of 88 my mother, Dotty,  went into the gym for the first time in her life.

She didn't go willingly. In fact she repeatedly said, "No I won't go",  cursed at me for taking her, and seemed almost zombie like on the way into the gym.

No I didn't have to coerce or force Dotty to go to the gym, all I had to do was gently guide her with my hand.

Alzheimer's patients like to be guided, but they don't like to be told what to do. This explains why her constant complaint, I'm not going, fell on deaf ears.

Once into the gym the near miraculous happened.

My mother stopped falling down, and I learned the most important lesson of my caregiver life - Alzheimer's patients are capable of more than we can imagine.

And now, finally, a new study confirms what I have been saying for years - exercise can make a dramatic difference in the way Alzheimer's disease progresses.

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A new study on Alzheimer's and exercise suggest that exercise, particularly when tailored to an individual's needs and performed at home, may help Alzheimer's patients maintain their independence and delay the move to a nursing home.
"This is an important study," said Dr. Kostos Lyketsos, director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer's Treatment Center, in Baltimore. "If we could ever deliver exercise for people with dementia in their homes, I think we could accomplish very substantial benefits for patients and reduce costs, which is a very big deal ... in health care these days." Lyketsos was not involved in the new research.
I would strongly suggest that you take the time to read Exercise in Alzheimer's disease.


I have already written about the many positives that came from the decision to take my mother into the gym and give her a real workout. The number one goal was to get her to stop falling - she had already fallen and broken her finger. She stopped falling. And, I mean stopped.

One of the biggest benefits of real exercise was a complete and total attitude and behavior change after exercise. My mother went from being mean to be being nice. She smiled, stood up straight on the way out the gym, and her self esteem had clearly improved.

Here is something I wrote about Dotty and exercise on this blog in 2008.
If you are a frequent visitor to this blog then you know I believe one of the most important parts of Alzheimer's care is exercise. My mother, now 92, suffers from Alzheimer's disease. The first time she visited a gym she was 88 years old. 
There is no doubt in my mind that my mother would now be bedridden if not for exercise. 
My mother sometimes holds on to the walls or anything she can grab while walking into the gym. On the way out she stands up straight and walks out on her own. 
Most people that know her are shocked to see this. We get an added benefit when people stop to talk or smile at her. 
If you want to read more about Dotty, exercise, and our exercise program search our knowledge base of more than 4,000 article by using the word - exercise (look to the right of the page for the search box).

I should add here that it is my very strong belief that one of the main reasons Dotty did so well over the years is because exercise helped prevent the loss of function, helped Dotty grow new brain cells, and slowed the deterioration of the hippocampus and regions of the brain that Alzheimer's attacks.

Also see: Exercise May Help People With Alzheimer's Avoid Nursing Homes - Study finds regular activity delays physical decline, reduces falls

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+Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized expert, writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 4,000 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Search more than 4,000 original articles in the Alzheimer's Reading Room Knowledge Base