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Can exercise help with dementia?

There has been increasing evidence that exercise reduces the chance of Alzheimer's disease by almost half, this is supported by the landmark study conducted by Cambridge University which looked at the seven lifestyle threats fuelling rising levels of dementia. The research has stated that one in three cases for the condition can be prevented if individuals increased their activity levels. Making healthier lifestyle choices such as quitting smoking can also reduce the risk of dementia as it was found that smoking increases dementia risk by 59 percent. In the study published in the Lancet Neurology, exercise is identified as the most significant factor in protection against the condition.

Why exercise and what are the benefits?

Exercise is not only beneficial for general health helping us to retain our cognitive and physical abilities as we age, it can help protect against dementia and slow down the progression of the condition. Many studies have revealed that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain, therefore it is important to keep these both as a top priority when it comes to preventing many conditions not just dementia. This is something regular exercise plays a huge part in, many of the other benefits of exercising involve:

  • Helping with sleeping and preventing restlessness
  • Reducing the risk of depression
  • Encouraging social well being. You can meet like minded people by joining exercise groups or at the gym
  • Physical fitness and wellbeing
  • Helping individuals keep in touch with nature by using the outdoors
  • Helping to promote an active lifestyle
  • Minimising the risk of some injuries as you will be physically fitter
  • Obesity in mid-life increases the risk of conditions such as Alzheimer's disease by 60 per cent, exercising can help prevent this. (Cambridge Study in the Lancet Neurology)

What type and how much exercise?

This is dependant on the individual and factors such as fitness, age and other health issues need to be considered. Before embarking on any rigorous fitness regime it's always advisable to consult your doctor, however as a basic most studies recommend moderate exercise such as walking done frequently. In terms of moderate exercise this is recommended 4 to 5 times a week with 30 minute sessions, if you are able to then three 20 minute bursts of vigorous exercise are recommended.

You don't have to do this all at once, with the moderate sessions you can break these into 2 sessions of 15 minute walks or whatever fits your routine best. There are also many ways to achieve being active that doesn't involve taking time out of your day to go to the gym, for instance you can do fifteen minutes housework in the morning and then a short walk in the afternoon. The following day can be some gardening followed by walking around a shopping centre. Keeping a diary to keep on top of your weekly routine and fit in all your exercise will also help.

In the later stages of dementia it is advisable to encourage the person to move about from room to room and do small activities that will keep them and their brain active. Try and get them moving as often as possible as this will help maintain muscle strength, good balance and joint flexibility. If the person is at a stage where they are confined to a bed due to their illness, it would be advisable to seek advice from a physio or an occupational therapist. With the advice from a professional a plan can be put in place for gentle exercises, that can help with keeping muscles and joints healthy.

Finally

Overall leading a physically active lifestyle can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of people with dementia. Exercise is beneficial for physical and mental health and may improve the quality of life for people in all stages of the condition. It is therefore important to incorporate exercise in their daily routine where possible, this will help both in the long and short term.

If you'd like to discuss Alzheimer's with a member of our team or find out more about our home care services, don't hesitate to contact us today.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer's

Coming to terms with the diagnosis of Alzheimer's can be tough on both the individual and their surrounding friends and family. You want to be as prepared as possible and provided with the adequate answers to the questions you are bound to ask. This being said, the internet can often be a misleading place and facts can become misconstrued, leaving you with false information and an uninformed mindset. To offer a helping hand, we have listed five of the most common Alzheimer’s myths and facts.

Myth #1: Only old people can get Alzheimer's disease

This is a common misconception which most likely stems from people’s pre-determined image of a typical Alzheimer’s sufferer. People in their 30s, 40s and 50s can get Alzheimer’s disease and, in this case, is known as Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. Out of the 850,000 people diagnosed with the disease, around 42,325 of those will be young, with symptoms presenting from the age of 30 onwards.

Myth #2: Diet, exercise and mental activities prevent Alzheimer's disease

Past stories in the press and media may have lead you to believe that exercising and sticking to a healthy diet can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, there is no solid scientific evidence to prove that there is any correlation between the two. Leading a healthy lifestyle is great for your health in general but, when it comes to Alzheimer’s, may only help to reduce the progression of symptoms rather than the actual onset.

Myth #3: Alzheimer's is completely down to genetics

Although there are certain gene mutations which are linked to Alzheimer’s, there’s a lot more to the disease than that. There are certain gene mutations which will lead to the onset of Alzheimer’s but there is yet to be an adequate amount of research done into this to prove a correlation. By far, the biggest factor contributing towards Alzheimer’s disease is aging.

Myth #4: Depression can cause Alzheimer's

Although it is common for those with Alzheimer’s to develop depression due to a range of factors, the mental health condition has not been proven to cause the disease’s onset. The mental health condition can arise during the early and middle stages and has a significant impact on the individual’s quality of life.

Myth #5: There are treatments available to prevent the progression of Alzheimer's

At this moment in time, there are currently no treatments available that effectively prevent or delay the symptoms developing. There are, however, FDA-approved drugs which can temporarily slow the worsening of symptoms for about 6-12 months. However, this is not the case for 100% of sufferers taking the drugs; due to their nature and the individual in question, the medication is only effective for only half of its users. 

If you’d like to discuss Alzheimer’s with a member of our team, don’t hesitate to contact us today.


Film and television are increasingly choosing to use dementia and Alzheimer's as plot points, or even to drive entire narratives. It is no secret that dementia has a prevalent place within our society, with 850,000 sufferers in the UK alone; this number is expected to rise to 1 million by 2025

With so many people affected by dementia and Alzheimer's, the coverage of these terminal illnesses is more than welcome, as it raises awareness and gives the public some insight into what those diagnosed go through. However, there are some myths regarding the portrayal of people with dementia that we'd like to dispel.

1. Alzheimer's disease is not a romantic or glamorous illness

Nick Cassavetes' film adaptation of The Notebook (2004) tells the tale of Noah Calhoun reading to his wife Ali. Every day, he reads their love story from a worn-out notebook in a bid to jog her memory, which has been ravaged by Alzheimer's disease. The film has been heralded as one of the most romantic movies ever, thanks to its tale of undying love. However, The Notebook romanticises Alzheimer's within a family, suggesting that everything will work out in the end given nothing more than a simple memory jog. In fact, many people forget that Alzheimer's disease is even involved in the film.

Memory loss is one of many symptoms caused by Alzheimer's disease, and this illness has an irrevocable effect of both the patient and their family.

2. Dementia isn't a 'funny' disease

When a comedy show approaches the subject of dementia or Alzheimer's disease, the results can often be compassionless and cruel. This has been seen in many television shows (Pete's mother in Gavin and Stacey, and Abe from The Simpsons). A more recent case is the representation of Cloris Leachman's character 'Maw Maw' from American sitcom Raising Hope. The Fox show has come under fire for being "not funny, but insensitive and cruel". Maw Maw is often the butt of the show's jokes; she rarely has any lucid moments, mistakes her grandson for her late husband, and forgets to put a shirt on.

Raising Hope makes caring for dementia sufferers look simple and fun, when caring for a person with dementia requires patience, understanding and strength. Caring for someone with dementia costs roughly £30,000 annually, but family carers of people with dementia save the UK economy £1 billion annually.

3. There is more to Alzheimer's disease than memory loss

Alzheimer's disease has become synonymous with memory loss, as seen in The Notebook (2004) and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) among others. However, there is so much more to this complex disease. As mentioned earlier, forgetting places, names and memories is one of the many symptoms of Alzheimer's, but the majority of patients relate to a feeling of sheer panic as they cannot find a connection to anything in their surroundings. They do not recognise anything around them, and everything becomes depersonalised.

Dementia requires complex care and shouldn't ever be diminished to just one symptom.

4. Dementia has no gender preference

Until recently, actors who portrayed sufferers of dementia were predominantly female. Still Alice, The Notebook, Grey's Anatomy, The Iron Lady and Iris all show women suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease. However, dementia does not have a gender preference; the older you get, the more likely you are to suffer from dementia, and because women tend to live longer than men, there are more female sufferers overall. 61% of dementia patients are female, and 39% are male.

5. Dementia isn't a rapid disease

Still Alice (2014) tells the story of linguistics professor Dr Alice Howland and her poignant battle with early-onset dementia. The film has been recognised as a fairly accurate portrayal of what it is like to have Alzheimer's disease, apart from the fact that Alice's decline happens in under a year. Alzheimer's disease and dementia can take as long as ten years to fully develop; vascular dementia is the quickest form of dementia to develop, but it is incredibly rare in anyone under the age of 65.

If you suspect that a loved one of family member is suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia, or you are looking for support for someone with these diseases, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of professionals are always willing to help.
Scientists have made a medical breakthrough by creating a drug that stops the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. The drug, which is the first of its kind, has halted deterioration of the brain, which is caused by Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia.

Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK, and 520,000 of them have Alzheimer's disease, a physical disease that affects the brain. Alzheimer's causes a build-up of proteins in the brain, which then forms structures known as 'tangles' or 'plaques'. These plaques results in no connection between nerve cells, causing them to die, along with a loss of brain tissue. It also limits the production of chemicals in the brain, meaning that important messages are not transmitted.


What is Alzheimer's Disease?

The symptoms of Alzheimer's include memory loss, depression, hallucinations, inability to judge distances and dimensions, inability to concentrate, and becoming easily confused. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe and patients often end up in need of home care services to help support them in their daily routine and assist with certain tasks.

There are already drugs (such as Donepezil) to control the symptoms of Alzheimer's, as well as therapy to help delay memory loss. However, this drug is the first of its kind to stop the deterioration of the brain, with some patients' deterioration rate stabilising for as long as 18 months. Research has shown that those who have taken the drug have had their fundamental cognitive skills maintained throughout the study.

These results were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Toronto by Dr Serge Gauthier of McGill University. He said:

"This is the first time it has happened in our field that a drug reduces the rate of brain atrophy. As a practising clinician, I see Alzheimer's patients, their families and caregivers continually share their desperate need for a truly therapeutic product."

If you have a family member who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and would like some advice on how best to care for them, do not hesitate to get in touch.

Caring for someone with dementia can be particularly challenging, but developing a deeper understanding of what they are going through can benefit everyone.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is used to refer to a number of brain-centred disorders, with varying symptoms. It is most commonly associated with a loss of memory and a sense of disorientation, but has many other effects that can be daunting.


How to Care for People with Dementia?

Due to the nature of dementia, those suffering can’t always communicate their feelings effectively. But with research and awareness growing, people are talking more and more about their experiences. We’ve taken a look at what is being discussed, and have found some useful tips for dementia carers to help their loved ones or clients live with dementia

1. The person you know is still there.

Amidst the forgetfulness and confusion, it can be easy to imagine that the person suffering with Dementia has changed. Aspects of their mind may be unrecognisable, but deep down they are still the same person. It’s important not to write-off their old self. Chances are, they are missing them as much as you are. So as often as possible, engage with the person you truly know.

2. It’s not simply an age issue.

Of course, dementia is more prominent in older people, but there are also over 40,000 people under the age of 65 living with dementia in the UK, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. Dementia is not simply a side-effect of ageing; it is something the affects many different people, in many different ways.


3. Good days and bad days will all come and go.

The nature of the condition makes it unpredictable, which means that a good day can turn bad, but then a not-so-good moment can also turn right around. When caring from someone with dementia, going with the flow is a way of life.

4. Trying to reason might not go well. 

In many cases, dementia can lead to irrational thoughts and feelings, which means that it can often strip a person of their ability to reason. This isn’t to say that disagreements need to be totally extinguished, although the scalability of them should be carefully measured.  

5. It’s more than forgetting things.

Forgetting names and faces is an unfortunate aspect of many people’s experience, but dementia can be much more than that. Dementia can mean hallucinations, delusions, angers and other disruptive effects. Each one of these present an unpleasant situation, which means that dementia care is ultimately about gaining a fuller understanding, so that these symptoms can be suitably handled when they occur.

6. We know that something is going on.

Dementia is a disorder that disorientates the brain - something that can undoubtedly lead to confusion. The realisation that something is not quite right can be distressing for those dealing with dementia, so it’s often beneficial to help embrace changes rather than to add to any confusion.

7. We’re still adults.

There’s a tricky, fine line to be tiptoed along here. In a distressing, lonely, confusing time, it’s easy to find your tone of voice softening and body language becoming more animated. Each and every person is different, so there is always personal preference, but when it comes to dementia care, it is always worth remembering that the person in question is not a child.

8. Our eyes still work.

Though some aspects of a dementia sufferer's mind may not be as they were before, other parts may be perfectly unaffected. Much like the first point, it’s vital to always be aware of how they are feeling and how they would like to be treated. Something as simple as keeping eye contact can boost the confidence of someone who may be feeling low or left out. 


9.We know it’s hard.

Caring for someone with dementia is by no means an easy feat, and dealing with dementia is certainly not a walk in the park either. It’s this mutual appreciation that can help relationships strengthen in these situations, and ensure that everyone is as comfortable as they can be.

To learn more about dementia and dementia care services, get in touch with Sova Healthcare, a team of leading healthcare specialists in Birmingham, Leicester and Bradford, to discuss how we can help you and your loved ones.