Staying strong, keeping physically active
There is an old saying – use it or lose it. It is true. Whether you are young or old, the more active you are, both physically and mentally, the better you will feel.
Being active has many, many benefits. It helps you feel better and sleep better. It can be social and fun and make doing daily tasks easier. And it can help you think more clearly.
It is also good for your health. It helps your heart, and helps make you stronger, steadier and more mobile.
If you would like to be more active, you can talk to a physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist. They can work with you to improve your strength, balance, mobility and endurance.
If you have problems with your muscles or joints, a physiotherapist may be able to suggest ways to reduce pain and stiffness. If you are having trouble with moving around or with your walking, they can give you exercises to help.
They can also suggest a walking aid, such as a walking stick if that might help you get around safely, and teach you how to use it.
Physiotherapists and occupational therapists can help you find the types of exercise and physical activities that you enjoy.
You might find that problems with your feet or shoes stop you getting out. If so, a podiatrist can check your feet and talk to you about comfortable and safe footwear.
Within a few months of being diagnosed with dementia, Ken was having trouble walking and was using a walker.
A physiotherapist made six visits to Ken at home. She introduced a program that aimed to make him more mobile. Ken’s son John did the exercise program with him.
Ken joined a day rehab program, which added different exercises. John added those to the daily at-home routine.
Within six months, Ken could walk more than two kilometres unassisted and got around the house more easily, though still using a stick or a walker.
The exercise has dropped off a little, although he is still walking a kilometre a day. He is also doing a regular program of exercise and hydrotherapy twice weekly. Ken is happier than before, enjoying getting out of the house and moving more freely. Some of his boredom has eased. John believes the initial visits from the physio made an enormous difference.
The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government funded initiative.