(Published 7th September 2015 in The Advertiser)
A number of studies presented at the recent 2015 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference showed that regular supervised exercise sessions could help to improve symptoms in people with memory problems and dementia.
Alzheimer’s Australia SA consumer Hugh Grundy, well-known for his active lifestyle prior to his diagnosis of Younger Onset Dementia several years ago, is living proof that the benefits of exercise extend far beyond just the physical; restoring a level of self-confidence and autonomy to him.
Through exercise and with the support of his wife and carer Wendy, Murray Bridge gym owner Donna and personal trainer Steph, Hugh has been able to overcome many of the barriers commonly faced by people with dementia, such as feelings of stress and confusion when in a public place.
Research conducted by the Wake Forest University Health Sciences faculty in the US tells us that exercise may help reduce levels of the culprit protein ‘Tau’ which builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Related research conducted at the Danish Dementia Research Centre in Denmark who worked with 200 people with Alzheimer’s disease, half of whom they asked to undertake a sixteen week supervised exercise program, found that while the exercise didn’t seem to have an effect on memory and thinking skills, the group of people who undertook the exercise program had fewer symptoms such as depression, irritability and anxiety.
In addition to the benefits of the exercise its self, exercising in a community space where a person with dementia is able to feel accepted and is provided with the appropriate level of support has returned to Hugh a level of assurance and dignity he only knew before his diagnosis.
The support and understanding shown by gym owner Dona and personal trainer Steph towards Hugh and his condition has enabled Hugh to maintain his interest and motivation to continue his gym sessions.
Taking time to understand the needs of people living with dementia is an important factor for people like Hugh being able to live the best life they can.
At Alzheimer’s Australia SA we are advocating for dementia friendly communities and businesses inclusive of people with dementia like Hugh’s gym which provides accessible personal training services to people with dementia, including having staff like Steph who understand and are open minded to people like Hugh Grundy who have dementia and how to communicate with them.
You can watch more about Hugh’s Story and how exercising within a dementia friendly community has benefited him after a diagnosis of dementia online - www.bit.ly/HughsStory
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