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The Benefits of Fitness for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients

“Everyone is Equal in the Gym”
The Benefits of Fitness for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients

When you think of therapies and supports for a senior living with dementia, your first question may not be “how often can she get to the gym?” But the latest research shows that physical exercise may be an effective treatment – not only for risk reduction – but also to help those already suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and vascular dementia live better lives.

At Hebrew SeniorLife, we offer robust, research-based fitness programs for all seniors to prolong independence and improve quality of life, including those with memory loss and dementia. For example, at NewBridge on the Charles, our continuing care retirement community in Dedham, MA, geriatric fitness specialists work with each memory care assisted living resident to develop a personalized fitness plan.

“We contact their doctors, review medical histories, and connect with family members,” explains Christina Foley, Director of Fitness. “We discover their passions and then work to build fitness programs around what they’ve always liked and enjoyed.” The fitness goal for many residents is prolonging self-sufficiency in the tasks of daily living – such as dressing, eating and moving about independently. 

Fitness specialist Teresa Boughner incorporates cardio, strength, balance and flexibility training in her popular supervised exercise sessions -- and also a bit of humor. “So many of our residents enjoy exercising and often find their moods boosted. The gym puts them at ease. The wonderful part is that I can lead a small group and incorporate conversations, storytelling and jokes as part of it. We’ve developed a trust that leads to participation.” She notes the goals are the same for seniors with dementia as they are for any adult looking to stay fit: thirty minutes of exercise a day. “We’re all equal in the gym.” 

In addition to the four sessions Teresa leads each week, memory care assisted living residents at NewBridge are also offered weekly yoga, tai chi, walking groups, and dance movement therapy. The uniquely designed campus allows for lengthy indoor walking routes no matter the weather in addition to miles of paved outdoor walking paths.

Our residents are as enthusiastic as our fitness specialists! “They participate so well,” says Teresa. “It’s a joy.”

Memory Care at Assisted Living at NewBridge on the Charles 

NewBridge on the Charles offers the Gilda and Alfred A. Slifka Memory Care Assisted Living Residences to seniors with early stage and mid-stage Alzheimer's Disease and/or a related dementia. The Memory Care Assisted Living Residences at NewBridge on the Charles provides a personalized and meaningful assisted living experience for residents based on the history, preferences and goals of each individual. Short-term stays now available. 

Learn more about Memory Care at NewBridge

Ellie Belanger's picture

About the Blogger

Assisted Living Advisor

Former Assisted Living Advisor at NewBridge on the Charles Ellie Belanger helped prospective residents and families explore the assisted living and memory care assisted living options at Hebrew SeniorLife’s continuing care retirement community in Dedham, MA. Prior to joining Hebrew SeniorLife, Ellie led community outreach for an assisted living community in the Brookline area.

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Very good article. I appreciate your insight.

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