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How to Treat Dementia with Exercise | Mind in Motion

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Dementia is a broad classification encompassing a range of symptoms that individuals may encounter when dealing with various diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The conditions categorized under the umbrella term “dementia” result from atypical alterations in the brain. These symptoms initiate a decline in cognitive abilities, impacting daily life and independent functioning. Additionally, they influence behavior, emotions, and interpersonal relationships.

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Dementia is frequently mislabeled as “senility” or “senile dementia,” a terminology that stems from the historical misconception that significant cognitive deterioration is a natural aspect of the aging process.

Symptoms & Signs of Dementia

Dementia: Symptoms, Types, Stages & Prevention - Homage
Dementia: Symptoms, Types, Stages & Prevention- Homage

The progression of dementia symptoms involves a gradual deterioration of cognitive functions, starting slowly and worsening over time. It is crucial not to overlook memory issues or cognitive changes in yourself or others. Seeking prompt medical attention is essential for identifying the underlying cause, as a professional evaluation can uncover treatable conditions. Early diagnosis, even if indicative of dementia, enables individuals to derive optimal benefits from existing treatments. Moreover, it presents an opportunity to participate in clinical trials or studies and allows time for future planning.

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Dementia stems from various illnesses leading to the deterioration of brain cells, impeding their communication. This disruption in normal cell communication adversely impacts cognitive functions, behavior, and emotions. The brain comprises distinct regions, each assigned specific functions. Damage to cells in a particular region hinders the normal execution of its designated functions.

Diagnosis of Dementia

Detecting dementia is not a straightforward process with a single test. Physicians ascertain the presence of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia by conducting a thorough examination of medical history, a physical checkup, laboratory assessments, and observing the distinct alterations in cognition, daily functioning, and behavior associated with each variant. Establishing the presence of dementia is generally achievable with a high degree of certainty. However, pinpointing the exact type poses a challenge due to potential overlap in symptoms and brain changes among different forms of dementia. On occasions where a doctor diagnoses “dementia” without specifying a particular type, consulting a specialist, such as a neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist, or geriatrician, may become necessary.

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Types of Exercise/Activities for People with Dementia

Here are a few illustrations of the kinds of physical activities individuals can engage in. It’s important to note that this is not an all-encompassing compilation; any variety of exercise can yield positive outcomes.

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How to Treat Dementia with Exercise | Mind in Motion - KreedOn
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Engaging in gardening offers a chance to be outdoors and is a favored physical activity for numerous individuals. The intensity of the activity can be adjusted based on one’s capabilities, ranging from lighter tasks such as weeding or pruning to more demanding ones like raking or mowing grass. These actions contribute to enhancing muscle strength and respiratory function. Gardening is a pleasurable pursuit suitable for individuals at any point in their experience with dementia.

Indoor bowls/skittles

How to Treat Dementia with Exercise | Mind in Motion - KreedOn
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Certain individuals may maintain their proficiency in bowling or engage in various ball games, finding pleasure in activities such as indoor carpet bowls or skittles. Several community recreation centers provide opportunities for indoor bowls sessions, while sets can also be acquired from toy or sports retailers.

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How to Treat Dementia with Exercise | Mind in Motion - KreedOn
Image Source: danceflavors.com

Dancing encompasses a variety of activities, including tea dances, couple or group sessions, and spontaneous movements incorporating ribbons, balloons, or balls. It can even be adapted for seated positions. This social and pleasurable activity serves as a engaging form of exercise, promoting enhanced strength and flexibility, assisting in maintaining balance and agility, and contributing to stress reduction.

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Seated exercises

How to Treat Dementia with Exercise | Mind in Motion - KreedOn
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Individuals experiencing dementia can gain advantages from a consistent regimen of seated exercise sessions, either in the comfort of their homes or within a group setting at a nearby class. It is advisable to witness the proper demonstration of these exercises, either through an instructor or a video, at least once. The focus of these exercises is on enhancing or preserving muscle strength and balance, and they are generally less demanding compared to exercises performed in a standing position. These seated exercises can be integrated into a progressive program, gradually increasing the repetitions of each exercise over time. A few illustrations of seated exercises are:

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  1. Swiveling the upper body from left to right
  2. lifting the heels and toes
  3. extending the arms upward
  4. lifting the opposite arm and leg simultaneously
  5. flexing the legs
  6. applauding beneath the legs
  7. pedaling the legs in a bicycling motion
  8. creating circular movements with the arms
  9. practicing the transition from a seated to a standing position.


Image Source: Getty Images
Image Source: Getty Images

Engaging in supervised swimming proves to be a beneficial activity for individuals with dementia. The sensation of being immersed in water is often found to be comforting and tranquil. Additionally, certain research indicates that participating in swimming may enhance balance and lower the likelihood of falls among the elderly.

Tai chi

How to Treat Dementia with Exercise | Mind in Motion - KreedOn
Image Source: uplandsvillage.com

Tai chi and qigong represent gentle expressions of Chinese martial arts, blending uncomplicated physical motions and meditation to enhance both balance and overall health. The exercises involve a sequence of integrated movements that emphasize the importance of stability and balance. These practices contribute to maintaining agility and potentially lowering the risk of falls.


Image Source: healthlibrary.askapollo.com
Image Source: healthlibrary.askapollo.com

Walking accommodates individuals of all fitness levels. It requires no specialized gear, is cost-free, and can be practiced in any location. The duration and distance of a walk can be adjusted to match individual fitness capabilities. Numerous local leisure centers and organizations coordinate group walks, facilitated by a designated leader, covering diverse distances, thereby making it a sociable pursuit as well.

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