New research has shown that chair yoga can be a valuable exercise for older adults with dementia. Cognitive decline doesn’t just affect the mind, it can also impair physical function, but this new study shows a unique way to keep seniors with dementia active.
Chair yoga is a safe, effective, and gentle intervention that can be practiced while seated or standing with a chair for support. It combines balance, flexibility, breathing, relaxation, mindfulness and balance and is an excellent non-pharmacological approach to treating seniors with dementia.
Many senior and community centers offer chair yoga, but the recent pandemic has created many barriers to senior participation. Lack of transportation, dependency on caregivers, and living in rural areas can also prevent seniors from attending classes. These pressures have created a need for innovative ways to provide chair yoga for those who cannot travel to an in-person class.
A recent study published in the journal Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice assessed whether virtual chair yoga could be used as a valuable intervention for seniors who were unable to attend in-person classes. This remotely monitored online chair yoga intervention targeted adults with dementia while researchers measured clinical outcomes virtually via Zoom.
Researchers assessed the feasibility of this intervention and analyzed the relationship between chair yoga and the outcomes of pain interference, mobility, risk of falls, sleep disturbances, autonomic reactivity, and loneliness.
All study participants participated in one 60-minute session twice a week for eight weeks. During the chair yoga sessions, participants were to follow an instructor who was illuminated on the zoom screen so participants could only see the interventionist. This allowed participants to focus on the yoga sessions without being distracted by other participants on the screen. Participants also interacted with other participants or the presenter via Zoom to maintain social bonds while maintaining physical distance.
Researchers found that the telemedicine-based chair yoga intervention was convenient for participants and their caregivers because it was easily accessible from their homes. Participants did not require transportation and did not even have to dress, reducing the strain and stress on caregivers.
Overall, virtual chair yoga classes have been able to “provide a means of reducing health inequalities by opening access to interventions for individuals who cannot travel to a clinic or facility,” said Lisa Ann Kirk Wiese, Ph.D ., co-author of the study.
“A key feature of our technology-based intervention is that it could enable socially isolated older adults with dementia living at home, particularly those in underserved communities where people are increasingly digitally connected, to receive remote supervised chair yoga that engages physical , social and psychological benefits.”
While some degree of cognitive decline is almost inevitable with age, some steps can be taken to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, including eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and socializing.
A simple step to reducing symptoms of cognitive decline is to get the right vitamins and nutrients. Ensuring the body is getting what it needs can affect memory, concentration, and overall brain function.
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