October 21, 2020
Physical activities are challenging for a lot of people. Add dementia to the mix and it goes up a notch. As the administrator of Alexis Lodge Retirement Residence, a memory care facility that caters to the needs of individuals in mid to late stages of dementia, my staff and I are tasked with finding physical activities tailored to suit each individual's physical and mental needs. This requires a lot of creativity, especially for residents that are bedridden or are in later stages of the disease. These residents are often not able to do common daily tasks for themselves any longer. They require hands on assistance and/or supplemental cueing to perform exercises.
It is incredibly important, no matter what limitations you may have, to push yourself to be both physical and mentally active. At Alexis Lodge, physical activities span from household chores, such as folding laundry and setting the table to dance, aerobics, walking, making music, board games, stacking activities, counting and ball tossing. All of these activities have the potential to stimulate the brain and body. Performing some of the simpler tasks can remind these individuals of past experiences and they have the added benefit of encouraging people to live with purpose and dignity, which is one of the hallmarks of the Alexis Lodge philosophy.
Our facilities are meant to mimic a traditional home, so as to make our residents more comfortable. This comes with its own unique challenges. Interestingly, one of the physical limitations of our home-like facilities, the fact that we do not have elevators, is one of our greatest assets in the winter months as it ensures that our residents continue to stay active and strengthen their muscles as they walk up and down the stairs. This is especially valuable on those cold days when you open the door and the harsh cold Canadian air tries to invade our warm cozy homes.
Dancing is definitely the most fun and most enjoyed physical activity for the residents and the staff of Alexis Lodge. It goes without saying that music is a universal language. In my experience, it does not matter the stage of the disease, everyone enjoys music and dancing, even if it means standing in front of a resident on a wheelchair and helping them swing to the beat of the music. In addition to all the benefits of a physical activity as discussed below, dancing helps to build stronger bonds and trust amongst the residents and the staff.
Physical activities are especially important for individuals with dementia because it:
All of this is to say, never stop exercising your mind or your body! Whether it's walking or dancing or doing household chores, it's important to remain active and push your body to MOVE!
Alexis Lodge invites you to get moving this winter no matter where you are.
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