Today’s memory care communities strive to engage seniors with Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia on a variety of levels. One way to engage residents and keep them active is through aquatic exercise. More than having fun in the pool, water exercise classes can actually be therapeutic and beneficial for people living with neurodegenerative conditions.
Unique Benefits of Water Exercise for Seniors with Alzheimer’s
Water therapy has been used for decades to help people who have deformities in their lower extremities. The exercise can serve as physical therapy, strengthening the entire body with low impact and gentle movement. More recently, studies have shown that aquatic therapy may help people living with neurological conditions including Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s.
The benefits of physical exercise to brain health are widely known but water therapy provides unique benefits that improve the quality of life for people living with dementia. Aside from the normal benefits of exercise, water therapy can improve joint function, improve motor coordination, improve balance and result in an increased range of motion. Additionally, studies have shown that for people who show signs of cognitive impairment, water therapy can be a more effective treatment than land-based exercises and improve independence in activities of daily living.
Dementia care coordinator Jackie Green says that residents who have dementia enjoy their water therapy program. “They feel able to do things. It gives their lives value, because they have a purpose.” Assistant activities director at a memory care community, Michele Cox echoes Green’s sentiment, saying “This has to do with providing quality of life. This doesn’t treat dementia, but there are case studies that show [exercise] does improve cognition if it’s repeated. It elevates mood.”
Has your loved one participated in a water therapy program that improved their quality of life? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.