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October 21, 2020

Never Stop Moving: Staying Active With Dementia

Combating Dementia with Exercise

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.



The Importance of Physical Activity

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. 

Not Just A Philosophy. But a Lifestyle.

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.



Active Living Made Fun

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. 

The Benefits of Physical Activity on Dementia

Physical activities are especially important for individuals with dementia because it:

  • Improves mood, reduces stress and helps to reduce aggression and wandering
  • Increases the production of endorphins, and improves depression
  • Improves physical abilities, strengthens muscles and decreases fall risk
  • Reduces constipation 
  • Slows mental decline
  • Improves sleep and sundowning, a common symptom of the dementing process
  • Improves heart health
  • Gives the residents a sense of purpose and accomplishment 

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.


Check out the SWSCD Athlete Advisor, your online athletic business directory. Find, rate, and review programs, local community offerings, and businesses that will help you do your thing.  

Start a group around a physical activity in your neighbourhood. Explore events. Check out our SWSCD Hub.

Look for advice, stories, news, and more on our Active Living activity page.  

Tell us about your favourite way to get yourself moving. Share your highlights directly on our Discover blog or by using #seewhatshecando on social media and inspire others to get active. 



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