Guided exercise routine for Seniors with dementia/Alzheimer's

Exercises for Seniors with Dementia

Why does exercise help dementia?

When it comes to promoting thinking skills and memory, exercise is the #1 power tool.  Not only does it promote brain function, but it helps strengthen the body which helps prevent falls. Getting cardio exercise during the day helps promote sleep at night. Getting a good night’s sleep helps the brain clear out toxins aiding in brain recovery.  Regular exercise is also beneficial in protecting against many chronic diseases.  

It is good to have a variety of types of exercises, such as cardio, strengthening, and stretching, in a person’s routine.  Even housekeeping tasks, such as sweeping a floor or folding laundry help provide physical activity. Walking is always a great form of exercise also.

Why does my loved one with dementia not want to exercise?

  • Keep the number of exercises limited.  If just starting an exercise routine, even just a few exercises are beneficial. 
  • Do the exercises in the same order every time
  • Do them in the same place each time 
  • Initially participate in the exercise routine with them, providing demonstration, as well as clear and simple cues.  
  • If they aren’t doing it quite right, that’s okay, continue to give positive feedback for participating. 
  • Incorporate the exercises into a daily routine, complete the exercises at the same time each day.  Having the daily routine posted can help the senior predict what comes next.
  • To help keep them focused, try to keep chit-chat out of the exercises and save it till you’re finished.
  • Avoid over-correcting them and saying words like “Don’t.”  Instead, gently cue them by modeling the correct techniques.  
  • Give positive feedback for them participating.  You want them to feel successful for all attempts made.  
  • Following simple pictures or figures of the exercises help the senior to become more independent in doing the exercises. 

If your loved one uses a walker, cane, or is unsteady on their feet, try having them complete the following exercise routine while stabilizing at the kitchen sink.  If they are a little unsteady you will want to stand next to them to ensure they are safe.  If the senior has good balance, standing without holding on to something will be the most challenging.  Exercises should be completed pain-free.  Try smaller motions if a large motion brings joint pain.  Use a 1lb weight or a small soup can for the upper body exercises.

Upper Body 

#1  Straight arm raise 10x - right side then left side

Dementia exercise routine standing exercise routine for dementia patients

#2  Bicep curl 10x - right side then left side

standing exercise program for dementia patients standing exercise program for someone with dementia

#3  Forward press 10x - right side then left side 

standing Alzheimer's exercise routine  standing alzheimers exercise program

Lower Body 

#4  Heel raises (go up on your toes) 10x

Alzheimer's exercise routine Exercise routine for Alzheimer's patients

#5  Knee bends (get heels to bottom) 10x - right side then left side 

standing guided exercise routine standing Alzheimers exercise program
  • Pick a chair where you can sit upright (try to avoid using a squishy recliner)

  • Use a 1lb weight or a small soup can 

Upper Body 

#1  Straight arm raise 10x - right side then left side

Seated exercise program for dementia patients seated exercise program for Alzheimer's patients

#2  Bicep curl 10x - right side then left side

seated exercise program for someone with dementia seated exercise program for someone with Alzheimer's

#3  Forward press 10x - right side then left side 

easy seated exercises for dementia patients easy seated exercises for someone with Alzheimers

Lower Body 

#4  Marching in place 10-20x

seated dementia workout routine

#5  Forward kicks 10x - right side then left side 

seated alzheimers workout routine seated exercises for someone with dementia

As the exercises become easier, gradually increase repetitions to 20. 

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