Exercise is important for everyone—even those with dementia.
Many people might think of dementia patients as being lifeless, confined to chairs and looking out windows at others who are moving their bodies and living their lives. This isn’t true, since dementia patients can also make use of their bodies as they are, just proceeding with precautions. This article will explore some approaches to take with dementia patients and physical exercise, focusing on specifics.
Many dementia facilities will encourage patients to embark on physical activity such as music and dance, indoor bowling, seated exercises, tai chi or ball games, just to name a few. Additionally, nothing beats the fresh air and open possibilities of a good outdoor walk. And have you encouraged your patients to try easy housework? Gardening is also an excellent excuse to get out in the sunshine and moving.
Of course, all of these activities must be monitored, but it’s important to keep in mind that they do facilitate a sense of cohesion and connectivity, not to mention physical relief that naturally comes from body movement and activity.
Many might ask: But what are the right forms of exercise, especially in the early to middle stages of dementia? This is only natural to question since you don’t want anyone being pushed too hard. 30 minutes a day is a good number to begin with—keeping in mind some days you may do more and others less. Beginning the initial stages of exercise with a brisk ten-minute walk is an ideal way for a patient to get his or her body accustomed to daily movement.
As previously mentioned, “seated exercises” are also a great way to begin with body movement. Examples might include making circles with the arms, clapping under the legs, bending the legs, turning the body from side to side and marching in place. If a swimming pool is accessible, explore swimming classes since moving in the water can feel effortless and enjoyable, especially for older bodies.
Regardless of the type of exercise, you want to focus on physical movement that ultimately enhances balance, focus and concentration. Preventing falls and broken bones is critical for the health and well being of dementia patients. Luckily, physical exercise in the early to mid stages can aid this.
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