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Alzheimer’s: A walk a day brings good health to mind and body

Posted May 25 2011 10:56am
05/25/2011 By ~ Sandy Leave a Comment

“The news about medications has become particularly disappointing lately.”  That’s the statement that jumps out at me as I read, John Zeisel, Ph.D., from the Huffington Post Health.

He mentions the use of a drug often prescribed during early stages of Alzheimer’s– Memantine (Namenda) and a new finding that this drug may be ineffective for Mild Alzheimer’s.

Apparently some studies have shown that it is effective for moderate and severe Alzheimer’s disease, but in mild Alzheimer’s there is a lack of evidence that it has any effect. This information from lead researcher Dr. Lon S. Schneider, a professor of psychiatry, neurology and gerontology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

In fact, it appears that Non-pharmacological lifestyle changes appear to be more promising for immediate help among those with dementia, says one report. London Telegraph Article ½ Hour walk Cuts Alzheimer’s Risk.

We might have time to sit around and wait for the perfect medication if our  grandchildren or great-grandchildren eventually have Alzheimer’s. A few generations from now we may receive the benefits of Research today; an earlier diagnosis and better medication for slowing down the symptoms or a breakthrough that regenerates brain cells to repair the damage done by Alzheimer’s. But today–none of those things are available.

Today, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s 30 million worldwide. 44% of the adults in the U.S. have a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s. And the pill, or cure-all, is simply not available. I watched my Mom suffer without visible results from any of the medications that she took each day. And since my Grandmother had Alzheimer’s and my Mother had Alzheimer’s, I feel fairly certain that I’ll find myself in the same predicament a few years from now.

As I did with my mom, I hope my caregivers; husband, sons, daughters, daughter-in-laws and friends try other ways to keep me active and living life for as long as I am “aware.”  We need to search for other ways to improve the lives of those with Alzheimer’s, waiting for the perfect pill is not good enough. There are other ways to delay symptoms and stay healthy longer, and that means exercise. — more trips to museums, learning a second language, taking a daily walk.

Dr. John Zeisel, Ph.D., suggests creating a Large Print Schedule. Put it on a Wall and schedule exercise every day. 30 minutes every day. His other suggestions include:

Include a map of the walking path you have decided on with pictures of significant landmarks and actual directions; insert the times you expect to pass each landmark and arrive home. If walking isn’t your thing, figure out another way to exercise for 30 minutes a day and recruit others to join your “30-Minutes-a-Day” Club.

If you live with or care for a person with Alzheimer’s, it probably is not a bad idea for you to take a daily walk as well — exercise lowers cholesterol, lowers the need for insulin for those with diabetes and maintains mental alertness. Organize yourself to take a half hour walk at the same time every day. Invite the person with dementia to walk with you; tell her that you don’t like to walk alone and that you need help to make sure you keep up the daily walks — both true. If she says no, take the walks by yourself to begin with and keep up the invitation.

The best walking path is simple and clear, has boundaries on both sides — for example plantings — and passes landmarks like a corner store or a school.

There is no chance of confusion on a path like this

If there are shops along the way, stop to let sales people know what you are doing so they can be part of your safety net. Just in case, leave a note with a photo, the name of a friend and a phone number. Don’t be embarrassed to involve the community.

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As we make our physical health better, we also make our mental health better and strengthen our ability to fight any depression of Alzheimer’s. Walking keeps us healthy in both body and mind.

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A glass-half-full looks at Alzheimer’s that reveals how to connect with someone through the fog of the disease

As many as five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and people often live with it for more than a decade. During that time, caregivers can have a vibrant and meaningful relationship with the person who suffers from the disease.

I’m Still Here focuses on connecting with someone with Alzheimer’s through their abilities that don’t diminish with time, such as understanding music, art, facial expressions, and touch. John Zeisel, an innovator in non-pharmacologic approaches to treating Alzheimer’s, shows that people with the disease are highly creative and emotionally intelligent. By harnessing these capacities, and by using other strategies, it’s possible to offer the person a quality life with connection to others and to the world.

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