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Exercise Ideas for Seniors with Dementia

Exercise is important for everyone, but it is especially important to senior citizens with dementia. In fact,  lab tests show that mice with Alzheimer’s who were regularly exercised demonstrated improved memory compared to mice that stayed sedentary. Tests showed that fitter mice saw increased amounts of a molecule that promotes brain-cell health. This supports what other studies have also determined-that regular exercise delays the onset of Alzheimer’s for people genetically at-risk of developing the disease and improves memory and reasoning for people who have it. To put it plainly, exercise is like medicine that lowers the amount of “biomarkers” for dementia, which are physical signs of the disease like a buildup of proteins between brain cells.

Clearly, exercise can be helpful to dementia patients, but how do you encourage them to get active, especially if they haven't been very active in the past? Well, it's really best to start incorporating exercise into their daily routine by treating exercise as just another daily task they need to do. It's also a good idea to simply do the exercise with them to show them how it's done and encourage them, as some exercise with a varied amount of sequences can be overwhelming if they are attempting them solo. 

Here are some great, simple exercise ideas to do with your loved one with dementia:

1. Get walking
Walking seems so simple, but it's truly a great exercise that you can incorporate into your loved one's day very easily. Simply take a stroll together around the block and enjoy time together while to check out the neighborhood. The combination of fresh air and movement does the mind and body so much good. 

2. Do some balance activities 

Balance can be challenging to older individuals, and someone with dementia is at an even greater risk for falls. That's why it's very important to work balance exercises into their day. Make sure to have a chair handy, and run through a series of motions that work on balance. Examples of balance exercises are standing on one leg while holding onto a chair, extending the foot slightly forward while balancing on one leg, or stretching up overhead on tip toes. Again, your loved one will need you by their side to ensure their safety, but working together to strengthen their balance will help them to prevent injuries in the long run. 

3. Bust a move together
Dancing is such a wonderful workout for people with dementia because dancing doesn't feel like exercise, yet delivers a healthy dose of movement to your loved one's day. And dancing is easy to do- all you need is their favorite music and you've got a dance floor any place you want it! However, if you are searching for structure, look for a low-impact dance class designed for seniors and take a class together! 

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