We know that exercise is important, but sometimes we forget that that applies to seniors too. Getting some form of exercise can increase the quality of life for dementia patients and keep them healthier. One study even found that seniors who exercise pay less in medical bills!
Of course, high-impact aerobics or a Muscle Beach strength routine wouldn’t be appropriate for most seniors. But there are plenty of exercises that they can do. Below are some suggestions for those in the earlier stages of dementia. Our next post will offer exercise suggestions for those in later stages.
Walking is perhaps the most basic exercise of all. To get started, all you need is your own two feet. It’s easy to design a walking routine to fit what that particular person is capable of: they may take a walk around the neighborhood or simply down the hall and back. Two friends can even go for a walk together to combine physical exercise with socialization benefits.
Tai Chi is a slow and graceful form of Chinese martial arts that’s been shown to reduce stress and improve balance and stability. It can be thought of as a form of moving meditation, more gentle and relaxed than yoga. Its movements are perfect for seniors due to the activity’s easy, gentle pace.
Many seniors enjoy swimming, finding it to be a relaxing activity in which movement is less jarring to the joints. If your loved one enjoys the water, this could be the perfect activity for them. Keep in mind that seniors with dementia should be supervised while swimming.
You don’t need to be fast and build up a sweat to be dancing. You can even dance while sitting down! For seniors, swaying back and forth can be beneficial. The music and the fact that dancing is usually done with others adds social and emotional advantages to this activity.
Even if your loved one wasn’t a gardener earlier in life, they can still take up this pastime now. Simple activities like weeding or watering don’t require a green thumb or prize-winning expertise. This activity provides the sensory benefits of the colors, smells, and textures, and also allows seniors to take meaning from the effort involved in making something grow. There’s a certain satisfaction in achieving results, no matter how simple.
Seniors should get the same amount of exercise as the rest of us: 30 minutes for five days per week. This may sound like a lot, but keep in mind all 30 minutes don’t need to be done at once.
Be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.