Mind & Body: The Benefits of Exercise for Dementia Patients
Doctors and mental health professionals agree that exercise and movement are necessary components of quality elder care programming. At The Moments, we believe in the research-based benefits of exercise for our dementia patients because we see them in action every day.
Mental and physical health go hand in hand, improving the quality of life for all seniors. Our days are full of opportunities to move, stretch, balance, and even dance our way to improved cognitive functioning!
Exercise and the Brain
The Mayo Clinic recently found that adults who participated in regular exercise had more gray matter than individuals who didn’t. This is important, as gray matter is responsible for memory and cognition. Thick, healthy gray matter is essential for delaying the effects of cognitive decline, including memory loss.
It isn’t too late for seniors with dementia to fortify their brains. There is a myth that the human brain stops developing by age 25. While most structures are in place by young adulthood, this dynamic organ never stops changing.
Older adults must mindfully work to thicken their gray matter and access pathways in the brain. The best way to accomplish this is through play. Physical activity encourages active problem-solving and quick decision-making.
Other Benefits of Exercise for Dementia Patients
Regular exercise is a key to agency and independence in the senior years. Here are the other reasons we fill our events calendar with engaging, appropriate opportunities to exercise.
Independence. Seniors who maintain their strength, balance, and motor function are more capable of completing self-care tasks. Strong muscles and joints allow them to navigate the facility with less assistance. Residents with strong fine motor skills can often dress and feed themselves. This encourages agency and helps older adults maintain self-esteem.
Improved Mood. All types of exercise help the brain produce endorphins. These feel-good hormones are responsible for feelings of happiness and relaxation. They can also reduce sundowning symptoms in our memory care residents.
Better Sleep. It’s easier for active residents to get a full night of restful sleep. This is the time when the body repairs cellular damage and waste. The better our seniors sleep, the healthier they remain.
Healthier Hearts. Movement can improve heart health, reducing heart disease and high blood pressure. This is critical in the case of vascular dementia. An improved blood supply leads to a healthier, more nimble mind.
Fewer Injuries. If you trip and fall, an innate sense of balance makes all the difference. The more our seniors move, the easier it is to prevent injuries and maintain a full range of motion. Furthermore, regular exercise strengthens bones, so if a resident does fall, they’re less likely to experience a broken bone.
A Full Social Calendar. All of our daily exercise groups provide opportunities for seniors to socialize with their peers. This reduces the likelihood of experiencing loneliness. During groups, our seniors laugh, move, and enjoy the company of others. Companionship boosts moods and morale, improving their overall quality of life.
Physical Therapy Exercises for Dementia Patients
At The Moments, one of our top goals is to ensure our residents are safe throughout the day. With that in mind, we offer a range of physical activities, depending on the skills and needs of our residents.
Our more active residents participate in formal yoga classes, tai chi, and dance classes. They might enjoy outdoor activities such as oversized Jenga or bucketball. During fair weather, many residents love to walk or jog through our curated garden spaces.
Seated Exercises for Dementia Patients
One of the most popular activities at The Moments is Whack-A-Balloon, or balloon volleyball. This safe sport allows residents to participate right from their seats. Creativity is key to developing an exciting calendar full of joyful opportunities to move and play.
Other activities that residents can enjoy from their chairs include:
Traditional chair exercises for seniors
Drum fit classes
Minute to Win It Games
Clapping along to music
Our activity specialists are experts at adapting exercises for individuals with varying physical needs. We also encourage mental exercises for our dementia patients, ranging from crossword puzzles to riddle groups.
The Joy of Exercise for Dementia Patients
The benefits of exercise for dementia patients range from brain development to pure, simple joy. We’d love to welcome your loved one to join our active, engaged community of seniors. We invite you to learn more about the Alzheimer’s & Dementia programs at The Moments.