9 Exercises to Help Slow the Progression of Alzheimer's

9 Exercises to Help Slow the Progression of Alzheimer’s

It’s estimated that nearly six million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease. While many people may assume that there’s nothing they can do to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s this is actually not the case. There are several brain exercises for seniors as well as younger people that can help keep the mind healthy and sharp.

Stimulating the brain can help relieve some of the degenerative symptoms that are associated with Alzheimer’s. So continue reading and we’ll walk you through some of the best brain exercises for slowing down Alzheimer’s and dementia.

1. Complete a Puzzle

Jigsaw puzzles are fantastic brain stimulants. This is because they work out a person’s problem-solving skills and their abilities to form shapes. Completing puzzles is also a calming indoor activity that can promote attention to detail, focus, and concentration.

It can even help the player enter into a tranquil, meditative state. This can lead to a steady heart rate and lower blood pressure for some people.

And the sense of accomplishment when you finish a puzzle can bring feelings of fulfillment and happiness as well. As you put the pieces together, the feel-good hormone known as dopamine will be released in the brain.

2. Read the Newspaper Together

No matter what stage of Alzheimer’s your senior is in, they might enjoy hearing about current events or even just listening about what’s going on. Reading is an effective way to stimulate the brain. It promotes deep thinking and triggers other memories from the past as well as certain emotions.

3. Cook or Bake

Cooking up an easy recipe that your senior already loves is a good way to make them happy while also keeping their minds stimulated. Making some freshly squeezed lemonade, chocolate chip cookies, or putting together a tasty soup from scratch will not only give your senior a sense of accomplishment but leave a good taste in their mouth too!

Even better, try using an old family recipe to bring back memories from the old days and put a smile on their face too. By giving them the role of rolling the dough or mixing the ingredients, you can keep them engaged and active.

4. Arts and Crafts

Art is a powerful method for expression, especially for senior citizens who are experiencing memory loss. Especially for those who are having trouble with their speech skills in the later stages of Alzheimer’s.

But by painting with bright colors and interesting textures, your loved one can communicate their emotions and feelings in a visual and stimulating fashion.

5. Gardening

Potting flowers and planting seeds can be a very peaceful way to spend time, as long as your not afraid to get a little dirty! Flowers are known to offer psychological benefits and are a great way to feel more connected with nature.

6. Scrapbooking and Organizing Old Photos

Much like completing puzzles, taking old pictures and arranging them into interesting patterns in a scrapbook can help the keep the mind working. But, scrapbooking can help to stir up old memories and strengthen neural connections in the brain.

When your loved one sees an old photograph from their childhood, they make remember an old story that you haven’t heard before. Old pictures could be just what they need to remember things that they haven’t thought about in years and become excited to share these stories with others.

7. Hold a Movie Marathon

Are you stuck inside for the day? Then this could be a perfect opportunity to have your very own movie marathon. Queue up some of your loved one’s favorite films and cook up some popcorn or other tasty treat.

Then, just sit back and spend some quality time together watching your senior’s favorite flicks.

8. Play a Few Rounds of Bingo

Bingo utilizes several skills and areas of the brain in order to play. First, it stimulates your hearing as you have to listen for the letters and numbers. You then have to look for those squares on the board and remember which one you’re looking for.

And if you don’t have the necessary bingo gear, don’t worry. There are several bingo calling websites online that will come up with numbers for you. So all you have to do is print out the bingo cards. And if you don’t have bingo chips, then just get some candy or even use a pen to cross off the squares that were called.

9. Chair Exercises

For seniors who are more active, then going on walks are probably part of their daily routine. But if the weather isn’t nice out, you can still stay active inside by performing chair exercises.

Put on some upbeat music and move around to the beat. Use tambourines, streamers, and maracas to have some fun and make some music yourself.

You can also keep your senior active by trying some yoga. Yoga is a slow-moving and relaxing practice that engages the brain and motor skills.

The Importance of Knowing About the Best Brain Exercises for Seniors

As we can see, there are various brain exercises for seniors that are easy to accomplish and fun as well. The important thing to remember is to go at their pace and keep them as engaged and stimulated as they want to be.

A major symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is difficulty communicating. Consider signing your senior up for speech therapy classes so that they can strengthen their neural connections and their speech skills too.

Contact us today and see what we can do for you and your loved ones!

 

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How Alzheimer's Affects Your Speech

How Alzheimer’s Affects Your Speech

“Have you ever walked along a shoreline, only to have your footprints washed away? That’s what Alzheimer’s is like. The waves erase the marks we leave behind, all the sand castles.” – Pat Summitt

Basketball head coach Pat Summitt was diagnosed with early signs of Alzheimer’s at 59 years old. In her memoir, she wrote about the fight of her life.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. Every 65 minutes, someone in the US is diagnosed.

The disease causes many symptoms, and speech impairment is one of them. Yet this disease doesn’t have to stop you or your loved one from having a voice.

Here, we’ll explore speech impairments caused by Alzheimer’s and discuss how you or your loved one can find their voice once more.

What Is Alzheimer’s? 

Alzheimer’s disease is named after Alois Alzheimer, a doctor who noticed abnormal changes in the brain tissue of a deceased patient in 1906. It is a form of dementia, which is a term referring to impairment in cognitive abilities that affect daily life.

The disease is progressive and generally presents in older populations. It slowly deteriorates mental functions, impacting memory and cognitive skills.

Although uncertain, researchers believe this deterioration stems from genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

When caught in its early stages, the chances of slowing the disease increase. Many of the symptoms can be managed. With help they can be minimized thanks to advances in research and medicines.

How Does It Affect Speech? 

Two proteins, beta-amyloid and tau, become toxic to the brain. What results are tangles of neurons and built-up plaques that affect normal functioning.

In a normal brain, millions of neurons work together to communicate thought and action. The beta-amyloid and tau spread to other parts of the brain. The neurons die and the brain shrinks.

Usually, one of the first affected areas is the hippocampus, which is responsible for forming memories. This formation is linked to semantic understanding, allowing individuals to finish sentences and connect words to items.

When the brain deteriorates, language processing abilities deteriorate with it.

Early Stages 

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals have difficulties recalling words or finding the right vocabulary to share what they would like to say.

During this stage, there is oftentimes a loss of verbal fluency. Individuals may stutter, halt or find it difficult to finish sentences.

Verbal fillers, such as “um,” and slower speech occurs. Difficulties comprehending formal written and spoken languages also occur.

At this stage, the symptoms are mild. Individuals form sentences and express thoughts but not at the normal pace they once did.

Moderate Stages

During moderate to severe stages, symptoms are very noticeable. Your loved one may struggle to form simple sentences or understand conversations.

Slurring, stammering, repetition and use of incorrect words or phrases are common.

This is a difficult time for victims of the disease and their families. Encouragement, patience and optimism are vital.

Severe Stages

In the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease, loved ones may lose the ability to form coherent thoughts and speech. Individuals frequently repeat phrases they hear from others.

When speech occurs, it is oftentimes incoherent or illogical. Individuals sing, babble or say words unrelated to the situation and conversation.

Speech Impairment Therapy

Speech impairment therapy provides Alzheimer’s victims with the tools necessary to improve language functioning as much as possible.

To do this, speech-language pathologists form individualized treatment plans that focus on memory and language. These plans take into account your loved one’s current cognitive status.

The goal is to increase communication in all forms, including verbal, reading, gesturing and writing. It allows patients to perform at their highest ability.

But speech impairment therapy also has other benefits.

Benefits of Speech Therapy

In addition to encouraging optimal functioning, speech therapy offers important advantages that affect the individual at an interpersonal and intrapersonal level.

Slowing the Disease

New breakthroughs in group language intervention show speech therapy can maintain functioning and even improve language barriers associated with Alzheimer’s.

In a ten-week trial, individuals participating in a study showed either improved changes or no function changes.

Although this research is in its initial stages, the results are promising.

Quality of Life

Working on language and communication skills pays off. Individuals share their thoughts and needs as long as their condition allows. They learn to communicate in several different ways with caregivers, friends and family members.

Furthermore, speech therapy extends to loved ones. Language pathologists offer communication strategies for families and caregivers.

Access to support groups also lets individuals share their feelings with those in similar circumstances.

This greatly impacts the quality of life. It is easier for those with Alzheimer’s to explain their desires and loved ones to understand their needs.

Future Concerns

One of the greatest benefits of speech therapy is its ability to help those with Alzheimer’s and their families with future obstacles.

The programs teach individuals and loved ones what to expect down the road. It also shows them how to address barriers that occur.

Common tactics families and loved ones may require later, such as appropriate swallowing and other forms of communication, make future obstacles easier to address.

Confidence

Many people who suffer from Alzheimer’s feel as though they lose their dignity as the disease progresses. Speech impairment therapy gives patients confidence. It gives them a purpose and results.

This confidence encourages those with Alzheimer’s to continue friendships and attend social events.

Isolation is common in individuals suffering from the disease. With the aid of speech therapy, many learn to address these negative feelings. Avoiding isolation encourages positive emotions and personal well-being.

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