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10 Exercises and Physical Activity for People with Dementia

10 Exercises and Physical Activity for People with Dementia

Guest Contributor:
Jean Deruiter


Dementia is a progressive disease that affects the brain. To be specific, it impacts the person’s memory, language, and other behaviors.

Having a loved one who has dementia is difficult to cope with. But there are small lifestyle changes that your loved one can try to help delay the progression of dementia. This includes regular mental exercise and physical activities.

Of course, it is best not to overstimulate a person with dementia when encouraging them to do any activity. Creating an activity plan to help schedule an appropriate amount of exercise can help decide when and which exercises to do.

On that note, here are some exercises or activities that people with dementia can do.


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Puzzles are an excellent mental exercise for people who have dementia. Many people with dementia often have some form of visuospatial deficit. So, activities like a puzzle can help stimulate their visual abilities.

A visuospatial deficit is when someone has difficulty understanding the relationship between himself and his surroundings. That’s why things like buttoning a shirt or drawing are some activities that are harder for people with dementia.

When choosing a puzzle, go for simple and easy ones with bright colors. That way, you don’t end up frustrating the person with dementia. The key is to stimulate them and not to frustrate them after all.

If there’s a particular interest in playing games like Scrabble, Words With Friends, or Text Twist, you’ll need a good word unscrambler. To provide you with the precise terms that can be used in these games, Unscrambled Words consults the official Tournament Dictionaries (TWL and SOWPODS.)

The use of a word generator can enhance your gaming in general. Additionally, as you come across new terms and their definitions, your vocabulary grows.


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Gardening is an excellent activity for people with dementia as it helps get their bodies moving. At the same time, they get to enjoy the outdoors and get some sun while also moving around and working their motor skills.

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If you know that the person with dementia has always had green fingers, then gardening is an activity they should keep doing or pursuing.

However, you still need to note their condition and well-being, especially if their motor skills are not as good as before. Aside from supervising them while gardening, you should also have some benches or anywhere they can sit. That way, they have someplace to rest should they need to do so.


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Walking is still one of the best physical activities you can do for your body, even for people who have dementia.

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It’s much easier to do, and there’s nothing too complex about it, but it will help get people with dementia their exercise in. It also enables you to do this anywhere, like walking in your neighborhood or around your yard.

To ensure their safety during these walks, giving them walking sticks for hiking can be a huge help, along with some supervision.

If you are the adventurous kind of person, you can bring them with you while you’re doing chores and walking. That counts as exercise or some form of regular physical activity already.


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Dancing is another fun activity that people with dementia can participate in. What’s essential with dancing as an activity for people with dementia is not that they hit the moves perfectly. There’s no strict choreography that one needs to follow, but having someone lead can help.

With the help of dancing, people with dementia can move more, and it can even trigger happy memories in them. It can help reduce their feelings of anxiety and give them a way to express themselves in other ways.

Nowadays, there is such a thing as dance movement therapy groups where one can participate in dance sessions in a group setting. However, you don’t need to participate in these groups. You can also organize a dancing session at home or wherever one is most comfortable.

Chair Exercises

Many physical exercises might be more challenging for some people who have dementia. Nonetheless, chair exercises are a great way to reduce or prevent the further degradation of one’s physical well-being. It can help get more mobility in someone to maintain the ability to perform everyday physical tasks.

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There have even been researches before on the positive effects of chair-based activities on the lives of those with dementia.

Since you can easily do it at home, it’s very convenient and not very physically taxing. You can even pair it with music so that it’s an exercise that can also help improve one’s mood.

Indoor Bowls or Skittles

Another fun and physical activity that can help someone who has dementia would be bowling.

The goal is simple, to use the bowling ball to hit the pins, and the person who does it with the least number of throws is the winner. However, ordinary bowling is unlikely for someone with dementia. An excellent alternative would be indoor bowling using toy bowling sets can be a great alternative.

Indoor bowling is a great activity that works best for people suffering from mild to moderate dementia. Studies have shown that other than puzzles, bowling is another activity that can slow down the decline of the brain in people with dementia. It can even help make dementia-slowing medication more effective.


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Swimming under supervision is another excellent activity for people who have dementia.

It’s a great form of exercise even, and given the weightless feeling in the water, it is a low-impact type of physical activity. Therefore, if the person with dementia may have joint pain or the caretaker, they can still enjoy swimming.

There are even specific swimming facilities that care for or have frequent clients with dementia. It’s an activity that people with varying degrees of dementia can participate in, and the carers can join in too.

Tai Chi or Qigong

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Qigong and Tai Chi are Chinese martial arts, but they’re not the action movie kind of martial arts. They use gentle forms and soft, simple physical movements combined with meditation.

It’s a great activity to improve one’s sense of balance and one’s health overall. It helps keep one’s agility up as well as mobility.

Musical Games

Music can always be a welcome addition to any physical activity or exercise for people with dementia.

Music can help reduce any aggression or other erratic behavior for people who have dementia. It can help relax them and improve their mood overall.

Music can also help with dealing with anxiety. Suffering from dementia can bring loads of stress on a person, where music can be a huge help. You can even try musical games to help create an activity while listening to pleasant music.


Bingo is commonly associated with seniors, but it has surprising cognitive benefits even to those who have dementia.

Bingo helps stimulate a person’s thought process and memory. So, adapting the classic bingo game for people with dementia is a great way to stimulate them.

You can make the texts bigger on the bingo cards or keep the players a small number. You can also ask them to identify colors or animals instead of numbers so that it’s easier.


People with dementia need mental and physical exercise to improve their quality of life. This is regardless of the stage or degree of dementia they may be.

That’s why you should find a way to incorporate these activities based on the preferences and conditions of your loved ones.

Try them out and stick to them to see a difference in the person’s life with dementia and keep trying other activities. Just make sure to take much-needed breaks too.

Jean Deruiter

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Jean Deruiter

Jean Deruiter is a brand consultant and an outdoor enthusiast from the US. She writes about high quality and innovative travel gear, as well as the dos and don’ts of outdoor traveling.



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