Here are some tips for a healthy lifestyle as you provide care for your loved one… 

If you are a caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, remember that you need to be a caregiver to someone else as well – yourself. Do take good care of your own health. If it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to take care of your loved one, and yourself, don’t worry; perhaps you can come up with a strategy to do both at the same time. Here are some tips.

Exercise together

Physical activity is very beneficial, both physically and mentally, for people at all stages of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Exercising may improve memory and slow mental decline, improve sleep, improve strength and enhance confidence, among other benefits. The exercise can be as simple as a daily walk, gardening, or dancing.

Exercise is certainly just as beneficial to caregivers. Even though the exercise you do with your loved one may be slow-paced, it is still beneficial. For instance, taking a walk provides moderate exercise, fresh air, and the opportunity for social contacts out of the house.

Plan physical activities that you and your loved one can do together and consult your loved one’s healthcare professional if you have any concerns before you begin.The Alzheimer’s Society has  tips on exercise for people with Dementia.

Brain-healthy diet

The Alzheimer’s Association stresses the importance of proper nutrition for people with Alzheimer’s because poor nutrition may increase behavioral symptoms and cause weight loss. Plan nutritious brain-healthy food for your loved one and for yourself and enjoy your meals together.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have developed a diet plan, the MIND diet, which may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53 percent. The MIND diet combines elements of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. It recommends 10 “brain healthy food groups” and identifies five “unhealthy food groups” to avoid.

Not all the recommended foods may be appropriate for your loved one, but you can enjoy those that are appropriate together.

The MIND Diet
10 foods to eat daily: green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine 
5 foods to avoid: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food

Lift your Spirits with Music

Research has shown that music helps calm people with Alzheimer’s disease and may even reduce their eating and sleep difficulties. People with Alzheimer’s and other Dementia can enjoy music and can engage in rhythm playing and singing even in the late stages of the disease. Experts recommend playing music from early childhood, such as folk songs, in the language they were learned, for patients in later stages of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has more tips on music and its benefits to Alzheimer’s patients.

Caregivers too can get great benefits from music. Listening to music has a calming effect, can lift our spirits, and increase our work output. Research has also shown that listening to music may lessen pain, improve immune function and improve memory. Develop a play list of music that is beneficial and enjoyable to both yourself and your loved one. Play and enjoy the benefits together. Try singing songs together as well.

Enjoy activities with your loved one, but be sure to schedule some time just for yourself. Ask family and friends to help out at least once a week so you can go do something you enjoy, even for a short time. You will return rejuvenated.

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