How to lessen a caregiver’s burden: Exercise for the patient

Created date

May 4th, 2020

Exercise has been proven to be beneficial to both patients and their caregivers. 

Caregivers of people with dementia face numerous challenges. A particularly difficult situation to navigate is when patients develop agitation and mood swings.

Behavior and personality changes are common symptoms for some people as dementia progresses. It can be very difficult for caregivers to provide care if their patient is agitated or angry.

Now, a group of German researchers from the German Sport University Cologne and the LVR-Hospital Cologne who had been studying the effects of exercise on the mental health of seniors may have discovered a way to help.

Agitation and mood swings 

The researchers were studying the effect of exercise using two groups of patients with dementia. Both groups were taking medication to control agitation and mood swings.

One group participated in exercise sessions twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon, for 20-minute sessions each time. Along with improving the health of patients, the exercise goal was to help normalize their day-night schedule. The other group of patients served as the control group and did not exercise.

At the end of the study period, the researchers found that the exercise group showed significant improvements in symptoms—especially agitation and mood lability. The investigators also noted, however, that caregivers and family reported that they noticed the behavior changes, and that the changes made the job of caregiving less burdensome. 

The researchers hope that studies like this one will help professionals develop more strategies that can improve the health of dementia patients and, at the same time, ease the burden of caregivers.