If you help to care for a senior citizen who has limited mobility or is wheelchair bound, then you know the challenge of helping him/her to stay as active as possible. Exercise for the elderly is an important way to stay physically and mentally healthy. This article will explore some fun and easy exercises that you, as a caregiver, can help your senior citizen to do.
How Seated Exercising can Help the Elderly
Any type of physical exercise can provide a number of benefits to the senior citizen. If an elderly person must exercise from a chair or wheelchair, he/she can still strengthen some muscles which will help to reduce the muscle loss that is typical of an aging person. In addition, seated exercising can provide cardiovascular benefits by raising the heartrate, and increasing circulation, and since it is low impact, is quite easy on the joints.
An additional, and perhaps overlooked benefit for seniors, is the enjoyment that seniors in a group atmosphere receive from group exercise: this can be a fun, lively experience that actually helps to foster a sense of community.
Types of Chair Exercises for Seniors
Despite being in a chair or wheelchair, there are a number of ways that the senior citizen can participate in exercise. Things such as stretching arms and fingers, lifting arms above the head, air boxing and punching, and arm circles will all provide a great workout for the senior’s arms, hands, and fingers. As to legs, if possible help the elderly person to stretch, push his/her legs in and out, lift them up and down, as well as have them try doing foot bounces, leg kicks and crosses, and ankle rolls.
Things to Keep in Mind for Seniors who Exercise
As with any activity, this should be fun! Play music, be lighthearted, and encourage the senior citizen but do not force him/her. Don’t underestimate how difficult this may be for the elderly person who has muscle problems, arthritis, or difficulty understanding and/or following directions. Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s especially may be challenged in being able to keep up with directions that come quickly: be patient, and allow plenty of time for each person to attempt each exercise before moving on to the next one. And if working with a group, encourage everyone to participate to the best of their ability and interest.
Equally important, watch for signs of exhaustion, pain, or redness in the face of the senior doing the chair exercise, and be prepared to assist him/her as needed.
Seated exercises for senior citizens can provide many benefits to the elderly, and if presented in a lighthearted manner, can also provide the senior a great deal of fun as well.