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Is Mom's anxiety related to her dementia?

Answered by Karen Garner

October 7, 2016

Hello. I am trying to find out if the anxiety (almost panic attacks) my mom has when we try to take her for a walk are related to her dementia? She's 79 and capable of walking, but consistently doubles over with chest pain and wants to return home. She's been thoroughly checked out by the heart doctor (inc. chemical stress test) and all is fine. She can walk around at the store and might complain a little, but actually walking to "get a little exercise" is not happening anymore.

I am so glad you are concerned about your Mom’s exercise and activity. All too often dementia patients end up sitting in front of a TV all day or sitting alone with no one to talk to. It can be quite lonely for them.

Yes, it is common for dementia patients to have a lot of anxiety about a variety of things. Sometimes I have heard stories of those no longer wanting to go to church, visit with friends or neighbors, or even venture outside at all. There could be numerous reasons your Mom is feeling this way. You may never figure out, but you certainly can accept the challenge and try. She may be scared of falling. Or she may have had an episode in the past.

It sounds like she is willing to get physical if she is distracted (like shopping), but I am wondering if you don’t mention her going for a walk as exercise but in search of something like Fall foliage, or birds or something along those lines if she would still be willing to venture out. Also, if you have a dog she can help walk? Maybe borrow one? A little creativity might go a long way.

There are some videos that are specific for seniors to do yoga, stretching, very simple movements that may interest her as well. They usually play good old fashioned music that she may have enjoyed years ago and her body might just start moving to the beat. I would encourage you to play music she enjoys as well to get her excited about moving around. As winter rolls in, this might be helpful as she will more than likely be indoors more and more.

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