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Exercise Delays Loss of Independence in People with Dementia

Often, as dementia and age progress, many older adults in the community lose their ability to live independently and move to assisted living and nursing facilities. An innovative study in the journalAging & Mental Health looked at the effect of exercise in delaying that loss of independence. During this pilot study, 11 people participated in various types of exercise, including tai chi, yoga, and dance. Researchers compiled qualitative feedback from participants and exercise instructors and analyzed the data to identify themes.

Results showed that participants saw increased body awareness, memory, and function skill following the exercise program. Participants also exhibited a more positive attitude towards exercise, and increased social interaction, making more friends. These results suggest that adults with mild to moderate dementia can experience beneficial functional, emotional, and social improvements by incorporating exercise into their lives. Health clubs provide a safe, supportive, and social place for older adults to be active.

Wu E1, Barnes DE, Ackerman SL, Lee J, Chesney M, Mehling WE. Preventing Loss of Independence through Exercise (PLIÉ): qualitative analysis of a clinical trial in older adults with dementia. Aging Ment Health. 2014 Jul 14:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]

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