Exercise is a great stress reliever. It immediately increases the levels of serotonin, noradrenalin, dopamine and endorphins.
- Serotonin is a feel good chemical that fights depression, common with most dementias, most chronic diseases--and most caregivers.
- Noradrenalin improves awareness and increases the ability to focus. Apathy, inattention and a short attention span are common dementia symptoms, all involving awareness and focusing.
- Dopamine facilitates small motor function and decreases depression. Dopamine is one of the chemicals targeted by Lewy bodies, making depression a chronic LBD symptom. (And of course, dopamine also facilitates small motor function, decreasing the tremors, slowness of movement and stiffness of PD.)
- Endorphins are natural pain relievers. Dementia is mostly a disease of the elderly, who have other illnesses such as arthritis. However, traditional pain relievers are often not recommended due to gastric discomfort or drug sensitivities. And there's more yet!
- BDMF increases a person's ability to maintain focus, or to switch their attention to something else. Most PlwD have a very short attention span unless they obsess, in which case, they can't stop easily.
- BDMF may also increase a person's ability to access abstract thinking, allowing them to move out of the here and now and to imagine new situations, and to be more creative. (This hasn't yet been tested on people.)
Thanks to Wendy Suzki for this information.
BDMF: Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor
LBD: Lewy body dementia
PlwD: person living with dementia
PlwLBD: person living with LBD
DLB: dementia with Lewy bodies
PDD: Parkinson's disease with dementia
MCI: mild cognitive impairment
MCI-LB: the form of MCI that precedes LBD
BPSD: behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia
For information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia
Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.