My Mama has always loved the water – she was born in Duluth, Minnesota. The state motto on their license plate is: “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” so needless to say, there was plenty of water available for swimming.
Even after the onset of dementia, Mama loved to be in the water. We had a membership at the local wellness center that offered an indoor pool, so we took her there as often as possible. However, since we couldn’t trust her to always remember how to swim, we had Mama wear floatation devices on her arms and restricted her water activity to walking back and forth in the pool. Since Mama had diabetes, I also had to keep in mind that her activity could cause her blood sugar levels to drop, so I carried small packets of honey with me at all times.
I was happy to read a wonderful article recently that seemed to confirm the benefits of swimming in spite of dementia – Dementia Friendly Swimming Lessons make a difference It tells about an 86-year-old man who swims regularly to help him live well with dementia. His wife Jean says, “It’s made a big difference. He likes being in the water, it seems to relax Fred. He’s happier and it makes a difference in his temper not only while he’s swimming but for the rest of the day.”
That observation agrees with a research article in the ©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine that suggests people swim every day to keep dementia away.
Prevention Magazine includes swimming as part of an overall strategy to help prevent dementia. They outline a variety of steps, their motto is: “Do ’em every day, keep memory loss at bay”
If someone is a swimmer prior to a diagnosis of dementia, it should still be a viable option for them as long as proper precautions are taken to ensure their safety.
As an additional benefit, swimming or walking in the water can help with maintaining balance.
Sometimes, when suggesting an activity, your loved one might indicate that they do not want to participate, but by responding with sensitivity to their feelings and encouragement, you might just help them to have a very pleasant experience in the water. Here is a video of a 94 Year Old Alzheimer’s Patient, Dotty, who goes to the Swimming Pool (VIDEO)
Mama’s trips to the pool lasted until the day came when she was no longer able to walk. I believe that they added to her quality of life and general well-being. If swimming or walking are options at all, they may be worth exploring.