Q.My 84-year-old wife is slowing down and seems to be more forgetful. During an appointment, our doctor talked about things she needs, including incorporating regularly scheduled exercise that he said might also help memory. The doctor said he was referencing new research that ties exercise and memory issues. I'm all for it; I'm tired each day after doing most of the housework that my wife seems to forget. It would be great if she could incorporate some of that activity back into her daily routine. She insists that additional physical activity "is no cure for old-age memory loss."
A: Previous research already had indicated that exercise may slow the progression of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
So does more current data, which focuses on the benefits of a wide range of activities. A recent study of seniors average age 78 concluded an active lifestyle helps preserve gray matter in the brains of older adults and could reduce the burden of dementia.
Cyrus Raji, M.D., Ph.D., radiology resident at the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues examined how an active lifestyle can influence brain structure in 876 seniors.
The patients' conditions ranged from normal cognition to Alzheimer's.
The lifestyle factors examined included recreational sports, gardening and yard work, bicycling, dancing and riding an exercise cycle.
"What struck me most about the study results is that it is not one, but a combination of lifestyle choices and activities that benefit the brain," Dr. Raji said.
"Virtually all of the physical activities examined in the study are some variation of aerobic activity, which we know from other work can improve cerebral blood flow and strengthen neuronal connections," he said.
Why not tell your wife about the study and try to encourage her.
If the housework is becoming overwhelming for you, a professional caregiver, such as one from your local Home Instead Senior Care office, can help.
A Home Instead CAREGiverSM also could assist with medication reminders, meal preparation, errands and transportation. Such support also may provide an added bonus.
As part of companionship assistance, a CAREGiver could accompany your wife on short walks in the house, around the neighborhood or at the mall while shopping.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact Joe DeLauter at 866-522-6533 or go to www.homeinstead.com.
To read more about the study, visit www2.rsna.org.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact DeLauter at 866-522-6533 or visit homeinstead.com.
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton, Montour and Columbia counties.