Benefits of Physical Activity in Seniors with Dementia

Author: Dave Schmidt

It’s no secret that physical activity is a huge benefit to people of all ages, especially seniors. The hard facts of scientific research show that exercise WILL improve overall health! These benefits of good health can come with even a small amount of exercise, no matter how old you are or the lifestyle you lead. But did you know that seniors with dementia are among those who reap huge benefits from physical activity? Read on to learn more…

Studies show that aerobic exercise slows the progression of dementia and other cognitive disorders. The results are so powerful, that doctors actually prescribe an exercise program as part of their overall treatment plan for seniors with dementia.

The hard part of the need for exercise is getting some seniors to participate in it. Many seniors with dementia and other cognitive issues are already withdrawn from social activity. They often suffer from depression, causing them to feel isolated. So how do you encourage the senior adult in your life to exercise more? Here are a few tips.

If you are having trouble getting your loved one out of the house, try just taking a walk together. Something as simple as an evening stroll around the block can do wonders for mood and well-being. Make sure that the distance you walk with them is not too strenuous for their current state of health. The bottom line here is that any amount of walking is better than no walking at all!

Leverage the Power of Grandchildren
Most grandparents love being around their grandkids and watching them play and run about. The energy that children exude can be very contagious! Schedule regular visits with the grandchildren and ask the senior loved one if they can help keep an eye on them or take a quick walk. All within reason, of course! The effort required should not be more than is reasonable, but even the small amount of activity can do wonders for seniors with dementia.

Ask for Help with Chores Around the House
Seniors who only have mild to moderate dementia are safe to engage in activities and hobbies that interest them. You might consider asking them to help you with light housework or an afternoon of gardening. For men, there might be small repairs around the house they could help with. All these things will make them feel useful and important, and that alone goes a LONG way with those suffering from dementia!

Join an Exercise Class
Nearly all community recreation centers or gyms will have exercise classes designed for seniors. They may even have classes that deal specifically with dementia or Alzheimer’s. These types of classes focus on getting them active and will not include strenuous or difficult activities. It can range from lifting light weights to using cardio bikes or treadmills. Yoga can also be very beneficial for seniors since it involves stretching and flexibility. Water exercise is one of the best ways for seniors to get active. It is safe and is very low impact.

Virtually any community center in your local area is sure to host exercise classes for seniors, and some may even specialize in classes for people living with dementia. These aren’t hardcore aerobics or anything, but they do give seniors the opportunity to life light weights, stretch, and use cardio machines such as stationary bikes. If there is a pool on site, seniors with dementia can also benefit from aquatic classes, from lap swimming to low-impact water aerobics.

For more information on how exercise can help seniors living with dementia, please contact us today!

Home Helpers of Lake County is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, 24-hour live-in care, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in Oconomowoc, Dousman, Beaver Dam, Hartland, Summit, Okauchee, Watertown, Delafield, Wales, Chenequa, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Juneau, Ixonia, Nashotah, and Concord, Wisconsin.

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