Sunday, Nov 27, 2011
The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network

Even when he was in his 50s, Kiyoshi Takizawa had the physical strength to run a marathon. But in recent years, his legs weakened and he began to exhibit signs of dementia.

Takizawa, 89, began spending most of the day cooped up in his room. But last spring, his 60-year-old eldest son Norio suggested he and his father go for daily walks. The pair now take 15-minute walks every morning near Takizawa’s house in Itabashi Ward, Tokyo.

Takizawa uses a wheeled walker supplied through a nursing care insurance service. “Walking has provided a certain rhythm to our lives,” Norio said.

For aged people such as Takizawa who tend to withdraw from society when they weaken and begin needing nursing care, it becomes important that they remain active and can go for walks with the help of their families. In such cases, families should know how best to care for their elderly relatives so they can walk safely at their own pace.

“When elderly people are alone and inactive, they can fall into a vicious cycle. They begin to lose their desire [to exercise] because of their declining physical strength. But even walking outside the home and exchanging greetings with neighbours can bring about change,” said Mio Ito, a researcher at the Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital and Institute of Gerontology.

Yuka Tanabe, deputy head of Komone Zaitaku Service Center, a nursing facility in Tokyo that provides day care services for the elderly, recommends carers select roads with light traffic and feature seasonal flowers and greenery. The centre suggests roads leading to a park as ideal walking courses.

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