Spring is finally here!

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Spring is finally here!

Spring is finally here!  Those of us who live in colder climates have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring.  Although it snowed here is Ohio just a few days ago, it looks like we will be seeing green grass and a few buds on the trees for Easter.  In fact, my daffodils are beginning to show their heads.  This is a wonderful time to get outside with a loved one who has dementia and enjoy the sights and sounds that spring has to offer.  Many of us are more sedentary in the winter and welcome the opportunity to stretch our stiff muscles.  Now is the perfect opportunity to being a daily walking program.  With your doctor’s permission of course, begin by walking 10-15 minutes a day for the first week and gradually increase that to 30 minutes each day.

Exercise helps the body release hormones that make us feel great and aid in providing a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.  We know that physical exercise is crucial for maintaining good blood flow to the brain, reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, but it also helps protect against the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
What some of the recent research says:
Recent research from UCLA demonstrated that exercise increased growth factors in the brain- making it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections.
According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions.
A new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Brain Health at The University of Texas at Dallas found that engaging in a physical exercise program helps healthy aging adults improve their memory, brain health and physical fitness.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine Regular found that aerobic exercise seems to boost the size of the hippocampus, which is involved in verbal memory and learning.

Besides keeping our body healthy, walking outside is a great mental stress reliever.  You can use the time to relax, clear your head, and enjoy what nature has to offer.  Walking can be a great social activity too.  Ask friends, neighbors, or other families who are living with dementia to form a walking group with you.  Begin by meeting at the same place and time once a week to enjoy each other’s support and camaraderie.  Often when people come together to exercise, they are more motivated to stick with it because they know other people are counting on them and they enjoy the social aspect of the event.  So get outside, enjoy spring, and get walking-your body and brain will love you for it!

© 2014 Jennifer Brush, do not reprint or distribute without permission.
By | 2016-10-31T15:03:32+00:00 April 17th, 2014|dementia, spring, walking|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jennifer Brush
Jennifer A. Brush, M.A., CCC/SLP has been working for over 20 years to change the face of dementia care in hospitals, assisted living communities, nursing homes and home care. Prior to establishing her own practice, Jennifer served for many years as the Executive Director of IDEAS Institute, a nonprofit organization that improves the lives of older adults through the conduct of applied research. She is an international speaker and recognized speech-language pathologist known for her work in the areas of memory, swallowing, and environmental interventions for people with dementia. She has served as the Principal Investigator on applied research grants that have examined issues pertaining to dementia, hearing impairment, dining, dysphagia, and the long-term care environment. Her research and consulting in the area of environmental modifications has resulted in improved functioning for people with dementia. Jennifer offers interactive and educational presentations and coaching that help clients bridge the gap between current research findings and the care needs of people with dementia. Jennifer Brush is the co-author of four books: Creative Connections in Dementia Care™; I Care; Environment and Communication Assessment Toolkit™ (ECAT) and A Therapy Technique for Improving Memory: Spaced Retrieval. She is the author of Meal Time Matters and Meal Time Matters at Home, training programs that build nursing assistants' and home caregivers' skills related to dining, swallowing disorders, and safe feeding assistance. Jennifer has authored over 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals, served as guest editor of the journals Seminars in Speech and Language and Perspectives in Gerontology, volunteered as Chair of Professional Development in Gerontology for the American Speech Language Hearing Association Special Interest Group, and was an editorial reviewer for SpeechPathology.com. Jennifer is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Jennifer is honored to be appointed by the Executive Director of AMI to serve as an inaugural member of the Advisory Group for Montessori for Aging and Dementia. This group is responsible for writing the AMI standards for Montessori dementia programs. Jennifer presented her research in the area of dementia at the first international conference for Montessori environments for dementia in Sydney, Australia in 2014, and spoke at the annual AMI meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2015. She will return to Sydney in November, 2015 to speak about creating supportive environments for the aging.

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