When a loved one has dementia and all of the issues that it encompasses, family care providers need a toolbox chock-full of helpful strategies. Out of all the creative approaches caregivers can use to help make life as meaningful, safe, and comfortable as possible, there is one very effective strategy that may be neglected: exercise for dementia.

We know that there are many physical and mental benefits of exercising for all of us, and that does not change with a dementia diagnosis. Exercise can help:

  • Improve sleep
  • Strengthen muscles and increase flexibility, balance, and circulation
  • Decrease pain
  • Lower the risk of falls
  • Boost mood and attitude
  • And much more

Even better, it’s drug-free, so there are no unwanted side effects to be concerned about!

To motivate and encourage an older adult with dementia to take part in physical fitness, propose to exercise together. This way it is possible to model the movements and assist the individual when necessary – remembering that performing the exercises as independently as possible is a good way to improve self-esteem and confidence.

Not sure how to begin? Try out these exercises for dementia, in accordance with the senior’s ability level.

Workouts for Early and Mid-Stage Dementia

These more advanced exercises work well for someone with less cognitive impairment:

  • Register (together!) for a fitness class at the local senior center, YMCA, or gym. If the person enjoys being in the pool or may benefit from a low impact activity, try water aerobics.
  • Dance! You can dance together at home, sign up for a dance class, or take the older adult to social events at your local senior center that include dancing. Bonus: music is amazingly helpful in rousing memory 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 a good mood booster as well, plus the work produces a fulfilling sense of purpose.
  • Get cleaning! Chores around the house like sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, and even folding laundry are good ways to work out, and completing these jobs together allows for conversations, reminiscing, and a sense of fulfillment when the work is done.
  • Go for a walk together – at the park, in a shopping mall, or just around the block. Stick to the same route if the senior prefers, or change it up from day to day if more variety is appreciated.

Exercises for Later Stage Dementia

Adjustments will need to be made as the disease becomes more advanced, but there are still loads of opportunities to incorporate exercise into the senior’s day, such as:

  • Sit to stand: From a seated position, with as much support as needed, the person will rise up to a standing position, pause for a few seconds, and come back to a seated position. Repeat several times.
  • Chair stretches: This video offers a number of different stretches that 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 ease stiff muscles.

Call on Inspired Home Care’s experts in elderly care in Barrington, IL and nearby areas for assistance with implementing an ideal (physician-approved) exercise routine for a person with dementia, along with the compassionate companionship that makes exercise more pleasurable! Get in touch with us today at 847-787-7572.