What is Dementia and how prevalent is it?

Dementia is classed as a collection of symptoms caused by disorder in the brain. This diagnosis can affect cognition, memory, and behaviour, however two people diagnosed can present very differently.

While routine and activities of daily living can be affected, those with Dementia can lead active and rewarding lives following diagnosis.

Risk of developing Dementia increases as we age.

  • Over the age of 65, 1 in 10 people are affected
  • Over the age of 85, 3 in 10 are affected

Benefits of Exercise:

Participating in regular, structured exercise suitable for an individual can have the following evidence-based impact on those diagnosed with Dementia:

  • Less Cognitive & Behavioural Decline
  • Reduced Development of Health-Associated Conditions (increased stress, poor sleep)
  • Improved Cardiometabolic Health (Reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease)
  • Facilitates Improved Brain Health & Neuroplasticity
  • Enhanced Blood Flow to the Brain
  • Reduced Memory Decline
  • Improved functional capacity for daily activities
  • Improved social participation

Physical Activity Recommendations:

Research on specific Physical Activity Guidelines for those with Dementia is very limited. Thus, current research and researchers recommend patients engage in: 

Aerobic Exercise

Moderate Intensity for a total of 150mins a week or Vigorous Intensity for a total of 90mins a week 

Progressive Resistance Training

at least 2 days per week (in conjunction with aerobic exercise) 

Balance Exercises

Regularly to help maintain/improve balance

Personalised, patient-specific exercise programmes are recommended for all individuals, so seeking advice and treatment from an Accredited Exercise Physiologist can assist you in commencing exercise.

Key Barriers to Exercise:

  • Research shows that caregivers play a key role in promoting exercise for those with Dementia, when equipped with appropriate exercise prescription and resources
  • Understanding the physical and mental health benefits of exercise is another key motivator for those with Dementia to commence structured exercise

Safety Considerations:

  • It is important to note that when exercising with Dementia it is very common to lose your balance or lose focus on the task at hand.
  • Strict supervision should be used and constant feedback to ensure the correct technique is maintained
  • For outside activities, make sure the person is wearing a medical alert bracelet or pendant, and some kind of identification.
  • Don’t force the exercise, while it is sometimes difficult to motivate there should be an element of enjoyment. If not, try something else as everyone is different.

Ways to Exercise/how to see an EP:

Consult your GP to get a referral for sessions with an Exercise Physiologist or reach out and have a chat with one of our EP’s here at Ripples.

Always consult your doctor to see if Exercise is safe.

Here are a few ways to increase your level of exercise or the level of exercise for someone living with Dementia:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Ball Activities (Catch, Bowling,
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Water aerobics
  • Yoga
  • Gardening
  • Tai Chi
  • Dancing