8 Tips and Tricks for Getting Alzheimer’s Patients the Physical Activity They Deserve

5. Pick something enjoyable.

Alzheimer’s patients tend to be cranky sometimes, but it’s understandable. They can’t do many of the things they were once able to do, and they constantly have someone checking in on them when they used to be capable independent people. Try to make their stressful life a little more enjoyable by picking a type of exercise they’re likely to enjoy. Dancing, perhaps? Swimming? Gardening? Give the person some options in a world where options are becoming fewer and farther between every day.

Running Senior Woman, listening to music

6. Keep it simple.

Think about the last time you tried to memorize a line dance, and then try to imagine doing it if you had Alzheimer’s. The bottom line is that the more complicated the routine is, the more likely it is to frustrate and upset the patient doing it. Alzheimer’s patients also like routines. Unless the person in question seems to be getting bored with the activity they’re doing, try not to change up the pattern too much. It’s okay to get a little creative here and there, but if you suggest something new and the patient balks, it may be best just to let them do the activity they’re used to.

horizontal image of an elderly senior woman with a walker fishing at the edge of the lake with trees and rocks lining the shoreline in the summer time

7. Talk them through it.

Use a calm and reassuring voice with the patient. Remind them what to do next and gently adjust their position if they seem confused (just don’t upset their balance). A constant familiar voice, even if they aren’t sure exactly who you are, can help keep the person focused and grounded. It’s also a good idea to pick the time of day when the person is most lucid so that they can focus and enjoy the activity more easily.

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8. Try seated exercises.

When nothing else works (either because the person is having a bad day or simply because the person just isn’t mobile enough anymore for a standing workout), try some seated exercises. Gently coach the person in shoulder raises, arm raises, and whatever else they’re capable of doing. Have them roll their head around on their neck, roll their wrists and ankles around, stretch their legs, or bend their torso from side to side.

Cheerful senior women exercising their arms.

These exercises may seem silly or inconsequential, but the truth is that every little bit helps.

If you’re interested in learning about other ways to keep a loved one with Alzheimer’s active, happy, and healthy, click “next” below to read about the magic of the HenPower Program.

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Elizabeth Nelson

Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?

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