Adults with dementia have a higher risk of injuries because they are more likely to become dizzy, have trouble with physical coordination, and fall. But physical activity is also important for people with dementia because it can help combat some unwanted symptoms of this common disease.
Therefore, what can you do to make dementia exercise safe for the older loved one in your life? Here are a few safe exercise suggestions from Elder Care Alliance. Most adults with dementia can confidently perform these exercises (though some may require a little supervision).
Chair yoga is excellent for adults with dementia because it isn’t too strenuous or complicated. Plus, the risk of falling is low since it’s done while using a chair to stay stable. Chair yoga can improve relaxation, flexibility, coordination and balance in people with dementia.
Walking is arguably the simplest dementia exercise a person can do. Walking for as little as 20 minutes per day can positively impact your or your loved one’s health. If it’s hard to walk for 20 straight minutes, don’t worry. You can break your walking sessions into smaller 5-minute sessions if that is easier.
Walking outdoors has the added benefit of fresh air and sunlight exposure. But if you decide to walk outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat and carry water to ensure you stay hydrated. Likewise, if you choose to walk indoors on a treadmill, ensure you have supervision in case you fall.
Weight training can help combat bone loss as you age. However, you don’t have to lift heavy weights to get the benefits weight training can provide. Anyone with dementia should only lift weights when supervised by a spotter.
Riding a Stationary Bike
Riding a bike outdoors is dangerous for someone with dementia, but riding on a stationary bike is a great alternative. Stationary bikes can be adjusted to make pedaling as easy or as difficult as you want. In addition, the repetitive movements of pushing the pedals on a bicycle can be soothing to someone with dementia.
Stretching While Lying Down
In addition to exercising and strengthening your muscles, stretching them out as you grow older is important. Regular stretches can help minimize the muscle and joint stiffness that often occurs with advanced age. Stretching while lying in bed can help ensure you don’t get dizzy or lightheaded during the activity and fall over.
Even simple household chores can become a source of daily physical activity. For example, folding laundry, dusting, washing the dishes, and vacuuming can all get the heart pumping and the blood flowing. Just be careful to take frequent breaks if you feel lightheaded or out of breath while performing any of these activities.
Choose the Appropriate Level of Activity
No matter what type of activity you or a loved one with dementia decides to do, it’s important to choose the appropriate level of activity. For some people, simply staying balanced in a standing position is a challenging dementia exercise to perform. Others may be able to perform more advanced exercises until their disease progresses. Use your discretion to ensure the person with dementia can safely perform the chosen exercises.