Exercise is important for everyone, but even more so for
seniors with dementia. Getting regular exercise is a great way to improve
well-being, reduce stress and reduce challenging behaviors in seniors
suffering from dementia. As the caregiver, it’s your job to find exercises that
are enjoyable and safe for your loved one’s ability level. It doesn’t have to
involve running around the block, but even regular walks down the street or
gardening can help. The key is to keep them active, and ideally, get them some
fresh air at the same time.
Exercise can reduce the risk of falling as well as pain
levels. Plus, staying active can improve:
All these benefits can help manage or even reduce symptoms of agitation, sun downing, sleep problems and more, says DailyCaring.
Exercises to Try
These are great exercises to try with your senior loved
one who has dementia. They also work very well for those with limited mobility.
We will address three different levels of exercises depending on the ability
level of your loved one.
Walk around the house, the
yard, or the neighborhood to benefit the body and mind. You may also combine
the walk by running an errand together such as getting milk from the corner
store or walking the dog.
exercises strengthen muscles necessary for essential activities like
Staying balanced in a standing position improves balance and posture. Have them hold on to a support if they need it. This can be done as a standalone exercise or part of an everyday activity such as washing dishes.
Sit unsupported for a few minutes at a time to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles necessary for good posture.
Stretch while lying down in
bed before getting up for the day.
Chair stretching routines. While seated, stretch shoulders and neck, arms, and legs, as well as circling of the ankles. These exercises improve strength, flexibility, and blood circulation.
Gardening: even something
simple like pulling weeds or raking can result in an effective workout.
Household chores such as
folding laundry, light vacuuming and dusting can surprisingly offer workout
Dancing: Play your loved one’s favorite dance music and lead them in an impromptu dance party. Check the calendars of senior centers for social events that include dancing.
Exercise class geared specifically for people with dementia
Water exercise at a local YMCA or senior center
Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline
Physical activity, an integral part of any overall body wellness plan, is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline, says the Alzheimer’s Association. When it is safe to do so, it’s important for your senior loved one or yourself to get the necessary exercise to stay healthy. It’s critical for both the body and the mind. Engaging in cardiovascular exercise in particular will elevate your heart rate, increasing the blood flow to your brain to give you additional nourishment. At the same time, this reduces potential dementia risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Here are some general physical activity tips:
Consider physical activities that are mentally and socially engaging. This could entail calling a friend to take a walk, sign up for a dance class, join a fitness group, swim at the local senior center, or even try golfing.
It’s important to think of activities that you truly enjoy doing so that you will be more inclined to keep up with them and actually look forward to them. These activities may include riding a bike, gardening or walking the dog. Again, it’s critical to take into account your ability level or that of your loved one.
Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Did you know that falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults? They’re also the top cause of injuries in one-third of adults over the age 65 who fall annually. Exercising regularly can help reduce the risk of falls in those with limited mobility and those who suffer from dementia. Here are some more facts about falls and why exercise is important:
Falls that result in a head injury can affect the brain’s ability to function normally. This could lead to unconsciousness, confusion and other symptoms.
Engaging in regular physical activity will improve strength and balance, which in turn reduces the threat of falling.
In the home, remove objects that increase the risk of tripping or falling, such as long electrical cords or shoes.
Turn on lights when entering a room to clearly see any obstacles. Install extra lighting in dim areas.
We hope these tips have been helpful as you come up with your own exercise plan or a plan for your elderly loved one!