When an older adult has dementia or Alzheimer’s and all of the obstacles that these conditions present, family caregivers need a toolbox full of helpful strategies. Out of all the unique techniques care providers can try to help make life as safe, comfortable, and meaningful as it can possibly be, there is one incredibly effective strategy that could be overlooked: exercise.
We know that exercising is very important to all of us, both physically and mentally, and that doesn’t change with a dementia diagnosis. Exercise for seniors often helps:
- Improve restful sleep
- Improve flexibility and increase balance, circulation and muscle strength
- Reduce pain
- Decrease the risk of falling
- Improve state of mind and outlook
- And much more
Best of all, it’s drug-free, so there are no negative effects to worry about!
To motivate and encourage a senior with dementia to engage in exercising, propose to work out together. This way you can model the movements and help the senior when necessary – remembering that performing the exercises as independently as possible is a great way to increase self-esteem and confidence.
Not sure how to start? Absolute Companion Care’s caregivers in Phoenix, MD are here to help! Try these exercises, in accordance with the senior’s ability level.
Exercises for Early and Mid-Stage Dementia
These more advanced exercises work nicely for someone with less cognitive impairment:
- Sign up (together!) for a fitness class at your local senior center, YMCA, or gym. If the senior enjoys being in the pool or may benefit from a lower impact activity, try water exercise.
- Dance! You can dance together at home, register for a dance class, or take the senior to social events at a nearby senior center that includes dancing. Bonus: music is remarkably helpful in stirring memories for people with dementia.
- Work side by side in the garden – pulling weeds, raking, digging, planting, picking vegetables and flowers. Being out in the fresh air is an excellent mood booster as well, and the work provides a satisfying sense of purpose.
- Get cleaning! Chores around the house like dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, and even doing laundry are good ways to work in exercise, and doing these tasks together allows for conversations, reminiscing, and a feeling of success when the work is done.
- Go for a walk together – around the block, at the local park, in a shopping mall. Stick to the same route if the senior prefers, or try something different from day to day if more variety is appreciated.
Exercises for Later Stage Dementia
Modifications will have to be made as the disease becomes more advanced, but there are still a lot of chances to incorporate exercise into the senior’s day, including:
- Sit to stand: From a seated position, with as much support as needed, the individual will rise up to a standing position, pause for a couple of seconds, and return to a seated position. Repeat several times.
- Chair stretches: This video offers a variety of stretches which will help strengthen and build muscles throughout the body.
- Bed stretches: For a loved one who is bed-bound, moving and bending the legs and arms, either independently or with support, will help relieve stiff muscles.
Reach out to Absolute Companion Care’s professional caregivers in Phoenix, MD and the nearby areas for advice about implementing an effective (physician-approved) fitness regimen for someone with dementia, along with the friendly companionship that makes exercise more fun! Reach us today at 410-357-9640.