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How Does Walking Help Aging Adults with Parkinson’s?

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Seniors with Parkinson’s face difficulty with mobility and balance. While lacing up their walking shoes and going for a stroll may not sound appealing to them, walking can mitigate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Ahead, learn why walking is such an effective treatment option for seniors with Parkinson’s.

Increases Coordination

Exercise helps seniors with Parkinson’s increase their motor coordination. While walking isn’t the most strenuous exercise option, it nonetheless assists with gait, balance, and muscle control. It’s also a great exercise option for seniors who live sedentary lifestyles. Seniors who want to adopt a regular exercise regimen should start walking several times a week. Most experts recommend exercising two to three hours a week. Walking also boosts cardiovascular health, which can stave off the cognitive and motor deficits associated with Parkinson’s. To get cardiovascular benefits, seniors can monitor their heart rate to ensure they’re hitting their goals. 

Some seniors have difficulty exercising on their own but would do quite well with a bit of assistance, such as the kind a professional caregiver can offer. The type of in-home care Clarksville, TN, seniors need can vary. Some need assistance a few hours a day, while others require more extensive around-the-clock assistance. At Home Care Assistance, we tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time.

Prevents Falls

When seniors exercise regularly, they enhance their mobility, coordination, and gait, which reduces fall-related injuries and can have a lasting impact. If a senior with Parkinson’s falls and breaks a hip, he or she may not be able to regain pre-injury mobility levels. Walking boosts physical wellness, which promotes healing from injuries that result from falls.

As their disease progresses, seniors with Parkinson’s may no longer be able to manage their safety and health without help. Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Clarksville, TN, live-in care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place.

Provides Neuroprotection

Cardiovascular activities such as walking also protect the brain from the damaging effects of Parkinson’s. When seniors exercise, their brains don’t necessarily produce more dopamine—a crucial neurotransmitter negatively impacted by Parkinson’s—but they do use it more effectively. Cardiovascular exercise impacts the brain areas that receive dopamine, such as the basal ganglia, which helps seniors use their existing stores of dopamine more efficiently, reducing the severity of Parkinson’s symptoms caused by inadequate dopamine supply. Walking can also increase the availability of helpful neurotrophic factors, including glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), a protein that prolongs the life of dopaminergic neurons. When these neurotrophic factors are in greater supply, the brain has more protection from Parkinson’s-related damage.

Encourages Social Activity

Seniors with Parkinson’s should consider doing some of their walking exercises on a treadmill. Treadmill training gives seniors body weight support and makes it easy to adjust incline and speed. While the treadmill has its benefits, seniors should also try to walk outside. When they take walks in the park or stroll around the block, they get the benefits of fresh air, sunshine, and community. Seniors with Parkinson’s often lack opportunities to engage socially, and spending time outdoors gives them the opportunity to chat with neighbors and passersby. Taking a walk in the park is also a fun activity seniors can do with their caregivers or loved ones.

Boosts Emotional Wellbeing

The neurological impacts of exercise are known to boost mood. Many seniors with Parkinson’s experience depression and/or anxiety. The increased dopamine reception that results from exercise can mitigate the effects of mood disorders.

If your loved one is living with Parkinson’s, having a professional caregiver close by can enhance his or her comfort and safety and give you greater peace of mind. Clarksville at-home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (931) 218-2781.

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