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Physical Activities for Seniors with Dementia

Staying physically active is important at all ages! Unfortunately, many people believe that age related conditions are reason enough to stop moving. If you provide care for an aging loved one with dementia, know there are countless benefits to exercise – if performed correctly and safety –including improved circulation, balance, flexibility and muscle strength. While a senior’s exercise routine will change as their dementia progresses, there are many ways to include opportunities for physical activity into their day.

Before Getting Started

Prior to starting a new exercise program or making large increases in a person’s daily activity, it is important to schedule a checkup to rule out potential health concerns. During the visit, caregivers can talk to the physician about what types of activities are recommended and if there are any to avoid. Once given the approval, seniors can then proceed with exercise routines and activities that are suited for their level of health. Need help with care responsibilities at home? Click here for information about home care services in La Jolla, CA.

Safe and Effective Ways to Increase Physical Activity

Throughout the stages of dementia, it may be necessary to alter a person’s current form of exercise. However, many seniors find that walking or swimming are comfortable and enjoyable throughout even the later stages as long as they have the support of a caregiver or instructor. During later stages of dementia, chair exercises can be used to encourage a senior to bend, stretch and reach with their arms and legs. Here are a few more ways to increase a senior’s level of physical activity each day:

  • Yoga classes – Providing physical benefits such as enhanced flexibility and strength, yoga in a class setting also provides Alzheimer’s patients with structure. Performing poses in sequential order can offer a calming feeling, while also forcing the senior to focus on the task at hand.
  • Gardening – Many seniors enjoy gardening and it is a great way to get a senior outside! Many studies show that gardens give Alzheimer’s patients a sense of peace, creating the feeling of a safe sanctuary while also being stimulating and exciting. Many seniors find it fun and engaging to learn the names of flowers, and it is an activity that can be performed with loved ones.
  • Sewing and Knitting – These activities require seniors to read patterns and follow instructions which can promote learning and cognitive stimulation, while also keeping the fingers limber. When a project is finished, it also gives the senior a sense of accomplishment and can boost self-esteem.
  • Stretches Performed in Bed – While it may not seem like much at first, stretches are an easy way to promote exercise without causing too much stress on the senior. These exercises can be performed from bed, and can easily be integrated into a seniors morning or evening routine.
  • Simple Housework – Who says exercise has to consist of rigorous physical activity. Having a dementia patient engage in housework is a great way to keep their mind busy. Folding laundry, doing the dishes and sorting mail are great activities that are easy to perform, and typically don’t cause much frustration.

Once a senior has established a pattern of regular physical activity, it may be necessary to create a schedule or reminder system to help them remember to move about each day. However, having a few fun and physically active options available will keep seniors with dementia moving so that they can continue to support their physical health while receiving the mental boost that comes with staying active.