A research partnership has found how integrating physical, emotional and cognitive health program can help people living with dementia.
It’s unknown whether holistic exercise for people with dementia could have psychological and physical benefits, as there is a lack of research on the experience of this type of exercise.
The research team involving partners from Teesside University and Alzheimer’s Society (UK) assessed The Happy Antics Program, a holistic exercise program which integrates physical movements with activities taking into account the emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual health of people living with dementia.
Here is what they did.
Each session began with a short cognitive exercise.
Participants were shown a picture of an object and the group leader spoke briefly about it the object. Participants were encouraged to
Following the cognitive exercise, warm-up exercises were completed and followed later by more physically intensive exercises. These exercises would incorporate aspects of tai chi, yoga, qigong, and dance movements, and intensive movements.
Each session ended with a short, guided meditation activity that focused on breathing and mindful awareness, in essence a meta awareness exercise.
So, in summary it followed a format of Cognitive- Warm Up- Physical Exercise then Relaxation/ Awareness exercises. The question is, what was the experience of the participants and was there a functional gain? This was not the key focus of the research but was an additional observation.
The goal of holistic exercise program for people living with dementia as explained by the research team lead, Dr Yvonne J-Lyn Khoo,
“When the wellness approach is applied to exercise, holistic exercise strives to encourage individuals not only to take part in the physical activities, but also to become aware of their own physical and psychological states, and to perform exercise that is purposeful and meaningful to them,”.
Through semi structured interview the 7 themes observed were:
Whilst there was very little recall of previous session events, participants towards the later stages of the program showed anticipatory movements associated with music movement.
A small number also demonstrated the capacity to recall a sequence of movements which was triggered by music.
The holistic mind-and-body approach proved to be both enjoyable and helpful for people living with dementia. People were observed to not only enjoy the sessions, but also showed anticipatory recall for movement which was supported or cued by music.
Caring for a loved one with dementia is not an easy task. Occupational Therapy Brisbane will arrange for a registered experienced occupational therapist to visit the home, assess the needs of yourself and the person with dementia, and create a plan.
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