Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle with Dementia
The advice for maintaining a healthy lifestyle with Dementia is the same for those in any state of health: eat well, spend time out in the open, and exercise. To a carer, however, this may seem like a lot to ask for! In this guide, we’ll give you some tips on how to help your loved one maintain a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle with Dementia.
Taking part in physical activity isn’t just mentally stimulating – it helps ward off low mood and depression, as well as reducing the risk of developing other health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
If your loved one enjoyed taking part in a regular fitness or sports group before Dementia, explore whether this is something they could continue. Would it be possible to arrange transport for them, or to have a friend within the group buddy up with them and make sure they’re comfortable?
For those unsure where to begin, there’s a great range of exercise and activity groups aimed at people with Dementia in the Peterborough area. The Dementia Resource Centre offers chair yoga classes as well as sessions named ‘Oomph!’, which are engaging activity groups for people with Dementia. These specially crafted sessions are designed to be fun and accessible for all.
Stay Mentally Active
Having a range of mentally stimulating activities is key to leading a fulfilling and meaningful life. While some activities that you used to enjoy together may be too complex for people with advanced Dementia, there are plenty of ways to encourage loved ones to get involved.
Your loved one might enjoy being read the paper or other favorite books and discussing current events. Creative activities like cooking, crafting or gardening are mentally stimulating, as well as being an opportunity for carers to bond with their loved one over a shared interest.
As with physical activity, support is at hand if you’re lost for ways to entertain your loved one. The Dementia Resource Centre hosts ‘knit and knatter’ sessions, designated womens and mens activity groups and ‘Singing for the Brain’, an informal choral group for people with Dementia and their carers. Scheduling a range of mentally stimulating activities promotes the positive wellbeing of your loved one, as well as making your day as carer more enjoyable.
Tips for Diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet has a positive impact on mood and energy levels, as well as reducing the risk of developing health problems associated with being over or underweight or poor nutrition. As a carer, you can help your loved one stay in their best health by guiding them in terms of food choices.
The advice in terms of what to eat isn’t rocket science: limit foods that are high in fat or salt, and avoid processed foods and high sugar options as much as possible. Emphasis should be placed on eating a varied diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
If eating is a challenge, there are some steps to take to make the process easier and more enjoyable. Try and make the environment as natural and inviting as possible, letting your loved one have a role in food preparation and choose when, where and what they eat (within reason). Limit visual and noise distractions during eating, so that the individual is able to focus on their food. It may help to eat with them and turn mealtimes into a social occasion.
Being mindful of a loved one’s health is especially important where Dementia is concerned, as they may be unable to articulate their needs, or recognise when they need medical help. With your support, a person with Dementia can continue to enjoy their best physical health for as long as possible.
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