Movement and exercise are critical to the health and overall wellbeing of all people, and are no less important in those with dementia or other cognitive deficits. In fact, it could be argued that movement is even more important for those with memory impairment because regular exercise helps promote blood flow to the brain as well as keep the body strong and healthy, which helps reduce falls, all in addition to expending energy that helps support a healthy sleep cycle and prevents agitation and restlessness. It isn’t hard to implement movement and exercise into senior care and in today’s post, we’ll share a few things we do at Serenity Gardens Memory Care Assisted Living centers.
The Importance of Exercise in Seniors
Before we jump into some of the things we do to promote active lifestyles in our senior community, let’s discuss why it is so important. As humans, we are meant to move! Many people struggle with a sedentary lifestyle, and for good reason. It is incredibly unhealthy in regards to weight management, heart health, and bone and brain health. Movement and exercise keeps muscles strong, our senses active, and helps support a healthy immune system. As we age, connective tissue does not repair or regenerate as readily, including collagen, muscle, and bones, which regular low impact exercise can help.
The more you exercise, the healthier your bones and cardiovascular system tend to be, helping to reduce chronic diseases including hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory conditions. Healthy muscle tone helps reduce strain on joints and bones, helping prevent falls and bone breaks that become more common as we age. Some exercise is better than no exercise, but the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, even for the senior population. Walking or low-impact cardio activity is recommended, but weight training and stretching are great activities that promote balance and flexibility.
Keep Moving Despite Cognitive Deficits
As part of a comprehensive memory care program, movement and active activities are at the heart of successful treatment. A few tips to encourage exercise in the memory impaired include:
- Making movement fun! Dancing, going for walks, chair aerobics, and Wii bowling are all great ways to encourage movement without making it feel like exercise or a chore and to keep participants engaged.
- Mix it up. Use a variety of activities and vary the routine each day. This not only keeps the exercise fresh, but also challenges the mind and body, helping to support creating new neural pathways.
- Include therapy. Physical and occupational therapists can offer insight into helpful movements that can be built into your plan that address specific conditions or limitations.
- Be flexible. If a participant isn’t interested in participating in the activity you had planned, redirect and try something else. And, if there is a day that they are not interested in doing much at all, that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to an off day, as long as it’s not everyday.
- Go with what is natural. If your senior wanders, wander with them and turn it into a walk. If your senior enjoys gardening or another active hobby, use that.
At Serenity Gardens Memory Care Assisted Living centers, we are large enough to provide the care your loved one deserves, but small enough to do it in a family-like setting. This affords us the opportunity to hone in on your loved one’s specific strengths, weaknesses, and limitations and develop plans that incorporate their interests. If you’re interested in memory care with a holistic approach in a home environment, connect with us online to learn more and schedule your tour today.