Lockdown tips to help people with dementia keep moving at home
With the latest national lockdown now upon us the Stay at Home message seems more daunting than ever for those living with dementia and their carers.
Deprived of the social contacts and routines that keep people going, finding ways to stay active becomes a real challenge. Recognising this, the Alzheimer’s Society have come up with 5 helpful tips on their Alzheimer’s Society blog to suggest ways to build activity into your daily routine.
Activity and exercise are great ways to boost not only your physical health, but your mental wellbeing too. Even small amounts of exercise can make a big difference to your mood so why not give some of these a go…
Gardening is a great way to get physically active while enjoying nature.
If you have a garden, there are lots of ways you can enjoy it. From planting seeds and watering plants to more strenuous activities like pruning shrubs or cutting the grass. These activities can give you a great feeling of accomplishment and improve your wellbeing. Get more tips on gardening.
Gardening can also stimulate your senses and memories – whether it’s through the sound of bird song or different smells and sights of nature.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy gardening and nature without any outdoor space. You can grow all kinds of plants indoors. For example, many succulents are perfect to grow on your windowsill.
You can also connect with nature at home by spotting wildlife through your window, such as birds, bees, plants and trees. Try using a bird feeder to encourage birds to visit. Or you can watch a wildlife webcam to see all kinds of fascinating wildlife.
Lots of these activities can be adapted so they can be done seated or standing.
Dancing is a fun activity that is great for fitness and feeling good. Find a song that lifts your mood and gets you moving – whether it’s a toe tap, a hip wiggle or a good old jump and jive.
If you’re encouraging someone else to dance, try choosing a song that they will recognise and enjoy.
Maisie is a 19-year-old student who is currently living alone with her nan, Terry, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Maisie tells us how they have been enjoying watching musical videos together.
You can also try setting a daily ‘dance alarm’ to remind you to have a dance. Try this in the morning to help get the day off to a good start.
Dancing can be done standing or seated. It’s most important to just have fun!
There are lots of exercise videos to watch online or on DVD to help you get active at home.
If you’re looking for something simple, you can search for gentle, low-impact exercises too. For example, seated exercises to help you get moving while sitting down. You can also try the Love to Move seated gymnastics programme from the British Gymnastics Foundation.
You can try yoga, pilates and lots of other fitness classes for a range of levels from beginners to advanced. You can find all kinds of exercise videos on the ‘We Are Undefeatable’ Youtube channel, which helps people with long term health conditions to get active.
Tracey, a former nurse with early on-set dementia, told us how she’s been keeping active at home during the lockdown with a variety of workout DVDs. Tracey’s favourites are Davina McCall’s workouts and Darcey Bussell’s dance fitness.
You can also get active while learning a new skill – like martial arts, ballet or dancing. Try to find an activity that you think you will enjoy. And choose a video that is the right level and length for you, so you won’t find it too hard or too easy. There are lots of videos to choose from, so you can try different ones until you find what you like.
A fun and creative way to stay active is with home-versions of sports.
Try re-creating sports you know with objects you can find around your home. For example, tenpin bowling with plastic bottles or cans for pins and a rolled-up pair of socks. Or home-made bowls using round-shaped fruit, vegetables, or any other round object you can find or make.
Jack, who is living with dementia, told us how he’s been playing darts virtually with friends by video calling them while they play using their own dart boards at home.
Get inventive by using household objects for exercise. For example, tinned soup can make great weights for your arms. A pair of tights can be used as a resistance band. And a cushion can be used as a punch bag.
Make sure you try any new activities safely, whether you are doing them yourself or supporting someone else to. If you haven’t used gym equipment before, find out how to do so safely before you start. Get more advice on dementia-friendly physical activity by looking at our guidance.
An Alzheimer’s Society poster showing suggestions for seated exercises is available to download…7 Seated Exercises infographic
The Alzheimer’s Society is a great source of advice, practical tips and ideas to support you at home during the coronavirus pandemic…click here to visit their website www.alzheimers.org.uk