If you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, you may have a lot of questions regarding what is going to happen, how fast it will happen, and what activities are safe or not safe for your loved one to participate in. While you may have a lot of questions that seem overwhelming, it is essential to take a breath and focus on one thing at a time. One of the common questions is whether or not swimming is good for Alzheimer’s patients, since it is generally considered suitable and beneficial for older people.
Stages of Alzheimer’s
There are seven Alzheimer stages that have been established over years of research and observation. These stages indicate the level of deterioration the patient has suffered, as well as an overview of their functioning capabilities during that stage. Moderate effects do not start until Stage five and quickly deteriorate from there. Stages one through four consist of mild to moderate symptoms that can be prolonged with medication. Many Alzheimer’s patients can still live mostly independently until they reach stage five.
If they were active swimmers before their diagnosis, then allowing them to swim for as long as it is safe is highly beneficial. Anytime you can enable an Alzheimer patient to continue doing the things they were able to do on their own before the diagnosis it’s a positive thing. Repetitive actions will help them to maintain independence for as long as possible.
That being said, people with Alzheimer’s disease mustn’t be left alone when swimming. Even if they only have mild Alzheimer’s disease and appear perfectly comfortable in the water, they may become suddenly confused or scared. Eventually, once their disease has progressed into severe Alzheimer’s disease, they will forget how to swim, which means it will no longer be safe for them in the water.
Monitoring their progress will also provide indications of their progression. A safety pool fence will help ensure your loved one does not try to go swimming while alone. Even if they feel confident in their ability to swimming ability, it is dangerous for them to do so without someone there to help if needed. If you’re a pool owner and have a loved one with Alzheimer’s in your home, make sure that your safety fence is of the highest quality and made of the best materials so that you don’t have to worry about any malfunction.
Benefits of Swimming for Alzheimer’s Patients
Swimming is beneficial because it is a good source of low-impact exercise. Staying active for as long as possible is highly encouraged for Alzheimer’s patients. Once they become sedentary, which will happen as the disease progresses, other health problems will naturally start to build up. Health problems are especially difficult for Alzheimer’s patients because they lose the ability to understand what is happening. Trips to the hospital can become traumatizing.
Swimming is gentle on the joints, so it is unlikely to cause additional health problems and will help alleviate symptoms from conditions like arthritis. Swimming also increases flexibility and improves muscle strength. As has been stated, the more active a patient can stay, the better off they will be. For people with Alzheimer’s, if they go even a short period not doing something they run the risk of forgetting how. Many patients lose the ability to walk after a hospital stay if they were kept in bed for multiple days. The amount of time it takes to forget how to do something will shorten as the disease progresses.
Swimming boosts mental health. Research has shown that the elderly population is more prone to depression and anxiety due to significant life changes, isolation, health problems, and the knowledge of aging. Mental health problems can negatively impact physical health. For people with Alzheimer’s, knowing they are slowly losing their memory and ability to live and act independently can cause severe depression and other mental health issues. Swimming has been proven to boost mental health in elderly populations.
The Alzheimer’s Association is dedicated to providing education and resources to Alzheimer’s patients, as well as to their caregivers and loved ones. They are also committed to medical research that benefits the patients and will eventually lead to a cure. Much of what is currently understood about the disease is because of fo the dedication of organizations like the Fischer Center of the Alzheimer’s Research Foundation.