Chair Yoga For Seniors With Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Many caregivers and senior care facilities are encouraging chair yoga for their patients. Majority of the research that is available to us supports that exercise is extremely beneficial to the function of our brains. For those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, exercising regularly shows improvements in cognition, fine motor skills, posture and more. While there is no cure yet for the illness, exercise is a sure way to improve the quality of your loved one’s lives. What makes variations of yoga, like chair yoga, potentially more beneficial than other forms of exercise is the added element of mindfulness. Seniors who practice chair yoga can learn to be alone without feeling necessarily lonely. The practice encourages sitting with one’s feelings in a non-judgemental manner. Also, integrating a mindfulness practice into an exercise regimen enhances mood, improves memory and and promotes calmness.
The Benefits of Yoga on the Body and Mind
- improves core stability, overall strength and balance
- promotes mobility and improves flexibility
- increases oxygen intake and develops lung capacity
- helps to promote feelings of well being and overall stress reduction
- lowers blood pressure
The Latest Research on Chair Yoga for Seniors with Dementia
A recent study examined whether or not patients with moderate-to-severe dementia would benefit from chair yoga. The 8-week “Sit and Fit” program involved twice weekly 60-minute classes. First, there was 20 minutes of breathing (pranayama) to help centre the mind. Next, they did 30 minutes of physical postures (asana). Each class finished with 10 minutes of guided meditation. All nine participants attended 100% of the classes and experienced remarkable changes. Furthermore, the authors of the study noticed increased balance and a greater general sense of well being. In addition, they saw all patients complete “all aspects of the program, and did not lose interest in participation.” This is particularly interesting considering that most who suffer from Alzheimer’s or Dementia will experience greater difficulty while sticking to tasks. While this is a small sample size, this initial data is promising.
Practicing Chair Yoga with Your Loved One’s
Chair Yoga is available in many Senior Care Facilities, community centres and yoga studios. If you are thecare giver for your loved one and care for them at home, you can use the resources below to create a practice. Also, you’ll have the added perk of practicing alongside with them, reaping the benefits of chair yoga in for yourself. You will need access to a chair with a sturdy backing.
Use the following links for follow along videos and step by step instruction to guide your own practice at home:
***Please note that you should always talk to your doctor before starting this or any exercise program. While the resources listed above are helpful, Silvert’s and the Giving Care Team strongly recommend using a certified chair yoga instructor to ensure a safe practice.