Does the person you care about spend a lot of time sitting down? We asked fitness experts from Oomph, an award-winning organisation promoting the physical and mental wellbeing of older adults, to reveal how you can help a loved one with dementia get out of that chair…
Why you need to keep moving
Growing evidence suggests that physical activity can have a positive impact on cognitive health. Recent studies have shown that exercise may improve memory and slow down the progression of dementia. It also boosts mood, mental health, and can improve relationships with carers, friends and families. Best of all, it needn’t be a chore.
Here’s how to help someone with dementia to enjoy taking more exercise
We recommend starting with one song of your choice to begin with (3-5mins) for a single session and week-by-week add in extra songs with 1-2 minutes breaks in-between. Tuning in to your favourite radio station tends to work very well as there’s often a few minutes of talking between songs!
• It’s always best to start being more active from the comfort of your own chair. Build up to standing when you feel ready to do so
• It’s a marathon… not a sprint…. It’s all about starting slow and building up movements over time
• Keep it fun! Put on some great music to get yourself moving…. it’s much easier to move to a beat
• Take rest breaks in-between exercises or songs to keep your body working at a consistent pace; not too intense, not too relaxed
• If you’re going to move around make sure you clear the floor space first
• Think about adding descriptive themes or imagery to movements…. Move your legs like ‘cycling a bicycle’ or ‘reaching for the stars’ with each hand
• Don’t forget to have a glass of water nearby (or a cup of tea!)
It’s normal to feel slight stiffness and aches during and after exercise if it’s the first time taking part in more energetic movements in a while but it’s also part improving strength, balance and endurance.
There’s no upper age limit to being active, it’s great for the mind, body and soul
Disclaimer: If you have an unstable heart condition, or there’s any reason why light intensity movements in a seated position it’s best to check with a health care professional or your GP before you start exercising. However, it’s important to remember that there are very few risks with exercise for people of any age, it’s all about taking things at a slow pace and build up over time.
For more information about Oomph go here.