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The Activity Director's Office
Current Activities in
Longterm Care
Kate Lynch, Editor
Current Activities
in Longterm Care
is a bi-monthly magazine
that provides useful
activities, calendars,
therapeutic activities and
programs, feature stories,
specialized activities for
Alzheimer's patients and
other disease conditions,
professional news,
medical news and much

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Exercise/Music Activity
Up to five persons with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s

A randomized, controlled study by Southern Cross
University, Lismore, New South Wales, has found that
when performed regularly, gentle exercises involving
joint and large muscle group movement, combined
with music, are effective at slowing down cognitive
deterioration in patients with mild to moderate dementia*.

Such exercises are suitable also for frail older persons,
including those in wheelchairs, and are a good way to
stay active during the cold months when outdoor exercise
activities such as walking are not always possible.

Materials needed:

  • A spacious room
  • Armless chairs for all participants
  • Audio equipment
  • Age-appropriate music

Note: Consult medical personnel before the activity to make sure that all participants can
exercise safely.

Steps to follow:

Start the music, and with the participants sitting in front of you, give the following

  1. Sit with feet flat on the floor and arms down at sides;
  2. Slowly lift arms to shoulder height;
  3. Rotate arms forward five times;
  4. Hold;
  5. Rotate arms backward five times;
  6. Slowly lower arms to the side; and
  7. Rest.

Repeat the exercise a few times, making sure participants don’t become fatigued.

Adaptation for persons with severe Alzheimer’s: Have each participant exercise in a
pair with one helper or volunteer they can watch and copy.

Tip: Give plenty of verbal clues while demonstrating the movements.

* Stevens J., Keelin M. “A randomized controlled trial testing the impact of exercise on
cognitive symptoms and disability of residents with dementia,” Contemporary Nurse, Feb-
March 2006, 21(1): 32-40.

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