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10 Ideas for Physical Activity & Exercise for Seniors with Dementia

Keeping active can improve the well-being of seniors with dementia.

Exercise is a great, drug free way to elevate moods and reduce the difficult behaviors that can arise in people with dementia like agitation, sundowning, disrupted sleep, and more.

It is important to locate physical activities that are pleasurable and safe for the persons capacity level.

Staying active can enhance sleep, strength, flexibility, and circulation. Exercising is additionally a great way to reduce fall risk and can reduce pain. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to boost mood and self-esteem.

We explain how to encourage persons with dementia to stay active and share 10 great exercising ideas for all different levels of mobility.

How to motivate someone with dementia to exercise

Encouraging persons with dementia to do some physical activity may often be difficult, specifically if they haven’t exercised commonly in the past.

It can benefit if not referred to as exercise, but as just a regular everyday task in their day to day routine or as an exciting past time event like a disco party.

Another thing to consider is that persons with dementia have difficulty beginning activities on their own and remember sequences. So its recommended to exercise with your elderly adult. This way, you can show the movements and keep the pace to a minimum and assist when required. Being in a position to copy your movement can make it a stress free and more pleasurable activity for your senior in care.

Assisting them in a workout may feel like yet another thing to pack into your busy day, but it’s an excellent way to minimize challenging behaviors and reduce sundowning symptoms – plus it gets you exercising too! 

10 physical activities for seniors with dementia

1. Walking – one of the most pleasant ways to get the body moving (and it doesn’t cost a thing!). Whether it’s around the house or outside for some sunshine and fresh air, any amount of time spent walking is going to benefit blood flow for healthy body and mind. Incorporate it into daily routines like walking the dog or a walk to the grocery store.
2. Sitting and standing exercise – helps to exercise the muscles needed for essential activities like using the toilet. Sitting on a chair with toes back beneath the knees and simply standing up off the chair and sitting back down for a repetition of about 10 times consecutively everyday is a great way to strengthen muscles. Depending on the level of mobility, aids like a walker or handrail may be needed, safety is number 1. 
3. Simple stretching while laying on the bed – move different parts of the body and stretch stiff muscles, this can be done assisted or independently.
4. Chair stretches – Here is a great Head to Toe seated chair exercise for Seniors that focuses on maintaining and improving range of motion. Doing this exercise regularly can improve strength, flexibility, and blood circulation. They’re are also an effective way to reduce fall risk and can help reduce pain.
5. Gardening – Simple activities in the garden like raking leaves, sweeping and pulling up weeds are great ways to keep the body active and it also gives a sense of accomplishment. 
6. Household duties – basic chores like folding laundry, dusting, light vacuuming, or washing the car can be great exercise for seniors. 
7. Tai Chi – A gentle exercise that helps seniors improve balance and prevent falls. It consists of making slow, graceful movements while breathing deeply. Here are some great Tai Chi movements shown in the video. 
8. Exercise class – some senior centers or similar organizations offer classes specifically for people with dementia.
9. Water exercise – consider going with your older adult to a local class at the YMCA or senior center.
10. Singing & Dancing – whether its seated or on your feet, moving, singing and clapping along to old favorite songs is a great way to get the body moving and promote a happy mood. Sing-along for Seniors is a useful tool for your group activity time. 
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About the Author
Debbie Davison
Debbie is the owner of Memory Lane Therapy and an experienced Activity coordinator for Aged care. Her passion is Music, Arts, Crafts and making people Laugh and Smile.

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