What Exercises Can Help People Living With Dementia

What Exercises Can Help People Living With Dementia

What Exercises Can Help People Living With Dementia

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.

What Was The Holistic Exercise Program For 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

  • discuss the object
  • ask questions about the object
  • Explore their relationship or experiences with the object

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,”.

What Were The Results Of The Holistic Exercise Program

Through semi structured interview the 7 themes observed were:

  • enjoyment, relaxation, keeping active, social interaction, pain relief, learning something new and intention to continue, respectively.

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.

Demystify Dementia With Occupational Therapy Brisbane

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.

We ensure that families have the knowledge, tools, and technology necessary to make their lives and the life of their loved one as comfortable and fulfilling as possible.

To speak with one of our senior therapists for free, we invite you to call 1300 783 200.

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