5 ways to sensitively get individuals with dementia to exercise

IMG_8835Dementia takes away the memories of our loved ones but they still need/deserve a good quality of life. The primary caregiver has to put in a lot of effort to provide them that quality of life which will benefit the elderly’s mental and physical condition. One can help them set up a routine, engage them with mind stimulation and encourage them to do physical exercises  these will prove to be very beneficial for our loved ones.

It is an established fact that exercise improves physical health, but the researchers believe that it also delays the progression of mental decline among seniors. According to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, daily exercise improved mental ability by 30 percent over a one-year period.

The main benefit of physical exercise is it helps to slow brain atrophy, especially in the hippocampus, the part of brain which influences memory and spatial navigation.

Other potential health benefits of exercise for dementia patients include:

  • Improved mood
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced/ limited constipation
  • Maintenance of motor skills
  • Reduced risk of falls due to greater strength and balance
  • Improved behavior (less wandering, swearing, acting aggressively, etc.)
  • Enhanced balance and coordination

It may not be easy to start a new exercise program with your loved one especially with those who didn’t exercise before the illness. Here are a few tips to help in sensitively getting them to start exercising –

1) Consult your doctor – The first and the most important thing is to get a full checkup done before starting any exercise plan. Certain health issues like arthritis, hypertension, Parkinson Disease, Lewy Body Dementia etc. can limit the types of exercises for your loved one suffering from dementia. It is important to consult a doctor in designing the exercise program for them.

2) Hire/ choose an expert exercise programme – Physiotherapist or physical therapist can be a good go to person to design an exercise programme for dementia patients. They will review the medical condition of your loved one before designing the exercise plan. This will also help in motivating your loved one to start exercising.

3) Start slowly- We just need to be more patient while initiating exercises with our loved ones. They may have lost the ability to understand the benefits of exercises so it becomes difficult in introducing something new. Give them instructions slowly, calmly and clearly. You can start workout with 10 minutes per day and it can increase over a period time.

4) Give them a demonstration – One must begin with 2-3 exercises and not more otherwise the elderly may feel over-stressed and would also find it difficult to remember. It is also important to go with the pace of the elderly because in dementia, people lose their ability to recollect instructions and perform actions on their own. So we may need to demonstrate the steps every single time.

Generally, people with initial stage dementia are able to understand the need of the exercises but you have to find different ways to engage your loved one at later stages.

5) Identify the right exercise – Physical exercises can be of many types like Tai Chi, Frankel, brain gumming, cycling, walking etc. One needs to be patient in identifying the exercise, which their loved one will like. It will not only motivate them to exercise, but will also keep them engaged.

Exercising is not only good for the physical health but also for the mind and body balance. Initiating a new thing at old age can be difficult and it can be even more difficult if there is a disease like dementia, when seniors have lost their ability to learn quickly and retain much information in their mind. But with love and patience one can gently encourage them to get into a routine.


We at Samvedna Senior Care aim to help seniors live happy, active and independent lives, in the comfort of their home and community through interactive caregiving.

Samvedna Senior Care was established in October 2013 with two complementary goals – firstly to provide quality home care services to seniors with limited mobility or dementia and hence social interaction, and secondly to facilitate stimulating community interaction and participation.

Our Dementia Care services are

At-home services –
Dementia intervention activities by trained Care Specialists (already mentioned above). These services are available in Delhi NCR
More – http://www.samvednacare.com/dementia-care
Please call us for more info – Delhi NCR – 98184 21446, 124 4229659

Counselling for Ageing Related Disorders in Anand Niketan, New Delhi –

Studies show that elderly may be more prone to depression and loneliness, which can lead to higher rates of unhappiness. To address this issue, we have designed counselling and therapies for seniors with anxiety, low mood or depression, mild cognitive impairment/ memory difficulties, or dementia.

More – http://samvednacare.com/geriatric-counselling

Dementia Cafe, Sector 57 Gurgaon –
From initial stage to advanced stage, all individuals with dementia feel the need for social interaction at times. Our Dementia Cafe is a safe and friendly place for your loved one with dementia to chill and socialize. The cafe is aplace where they will find a fun activity, a warm chair and companionship. Every Tuesday and Thursday, 11-1PM.
More – http://www.samvednacare.org/our-work/dementia-cafe

Cognitive Wellness Programme, Sector 57  Gurgaon  –
Samvedna’s Cognitive Wellness Programme is designed for seniors with mild cognitive impairment, early dementia or Parkinson’s,and elderly lacking in enthusiasm and motivation. The aim is to stimulate the mind of the elderly to slow the progression of the disease or impairment. The sessions are 3 days a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 11AM-1PM.
More – http://www.samvednacare.org/our-work/cognitive-wellness-programme

Dementia Support Group –

Our Dementia Support group in Delhi NCR and Guwahati is a platform for caregivers to share feelings and support each other.
More – http://www.samvednacare.org/our-work/dementia-care
Please call us for more info – Delhi NCR – 98184 21446, 124 4229659

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