Exercise is crucial in maintaining health and wellbeing for older people. However, mobility-related or cognitive conditions can make it difficult to establish a regular exercise regime.
Not only does exercise have many short-term mood-boosting effects, it also helps protect against muscle deterioration, and can build self-esteem by enabling people to feel active and involved. Older people can exercise in their own homes, or join up with a group for additional social interaction.
Exercises should be supervised by a carer or another trained healthcare professional to ensure that your loved one receives adequate support and instruction.
Many live-in carers have occupational therapy experience, and are skilled in physiotherapy techniques. This means that they can review a person’s need, ability and personal preferences in order to support a specific, tailor made programme for the person in their care. The aim is always to help the individual enjoy exercising in a safe manner.
If any of the following symptoms occur during exercise, arrange an appointment with a GP immediately:
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or light-headedness
Exercises for people with limited mobility
Many exercises can be done from a seated position, but exercise in water can also be beneficial as it supports body mass and reduces strain on muscles.
These are some of the exercises that a healthcare professional may recommend for your loved one:
- Neck rolls: Place chin on chest, then roll it round to their left shoulder and back five times – repeat to the right shoulder
- Arm stretches: Put arms out in front of them, link hands, then slowly raise and lower the arms above the head five times
- Side twist: Turn the upper body to the side of the chair/wheelchair and hold for five seconds before repeating on the other side
- Swimming: Try assisted low-impact swimming, using a comfortable range of strokes
- Knee lifts: Hold the sides of the chair and lift each knee slowly in succession, holding for as long as is comfortable (around three seconds) before repeating
- Leg circles: Raise the leg and use it to draw circles with the foot for 10 seconds, before repeating with the other leg
Exercises for people with cognitive health conditions
These exercises provide an overview of the types of exercises that health professionals may recommend for the earlier and latter stages of dementia:
- Walking: Walking is the simplest form of exercise and can help people get out of the house. It can also help maintain levels of social interaction
- Dancing: The enjoyment of nostalgic tunes can help reduce feelings of anxiety, agitation and depression in people with dementia. Dancing adds a gentle element of exercise and social interaction
- Swimming: When supervised, the sensation of water can be a soothing and relaxing experience
- Indoor bowls: Joining an indoor bowls club is a great option for people who have enjoyed competitive sport, offering both health and social benefits
- Bed shuffle: Shuffling from one end of the bed to the other in a seated position can help to strengthen core muscles
- Balancing: From a standing position (with support if necessary), balance on one leg for 5 – 10 seconds before switching
- Unsupported sitting: Sit unsupported for a few minutes each day (with supervision) to strengthen stomach and back muscles
Find out how The Good Care Group can help your loved one stay active and independent, even as their needs change over time.