5 great ways to keep moving at home - tips for people with dementia

If you have dementia - it’s important to stay active. As even small amounts of activity or exercise can make a big difference to your overall health and wellbeing.

Coronavirus will be making it harder to stay active. You may not be getting out and about as much as usual. And you may be feeling worried or frustrated at the situation.

However the coronavirus crisis is affecting you, it’s important to look after yourself during this difficult time. And staying active can really help improve both your mental and physical wellbeing.

There are lots of ways to build activities into your daily routine. For example, you can do some of these activities while the kettle boils, when the TV adverts are on, or waiting for the microwave to ping.

To help you or your loved one stay active at home, Alzheimer’s Society have five helpful tips on ways to keep moving at home. 

Five ways to keep moving at home

1. Gardening

Illustration of a person with dementia watering a plant

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.

2. Dancing

Illustration of an older couple dancing

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!

3. Exercise videos

Illustration of two people doing chair exercises

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.

4. Home-versions of sports

Illustration of two people playing DIY sports at home

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.

5. DIY workout

Illustration of two people doing chair exercises

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.

Alzheimer’s Society is here help

We have advice, practical tips and ideas to support you at home during the coronavirus pandemic. From ways to keep moving, to fun and stimulating activity ideas, we can help you stay active at any stage of dementia.

Anything is better than nothing. So if you haven’t been active for a while - start slow, build your confidence, and enjoy yourself!

More tips for staying active

We've got more seated exercises to help keep you moving, or you can download the tips from this page as a poster to print and use at home.

Seated exercises Download poster

The above activities resources are also available to download in Welsh.

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There are these four lovely videos on YouTube designed especially for older people and made by someone who works with people with Alzheimer's and their carers/partners. They're filmed in beautiful locations with friendly music. Think you'll like them - here's one of them: https://youtu.be/SjHv-v0dQfY

This is helpful
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