Stronger at Home: Volunteer-Led Exercise for Seniors with Dementia

Point-of-care worker helping senior stretch on a yoga mat in a home setting

Award Date: 2017

Project Lead(s): Abby Malott, Preventative Health Coordinator

Project Title: Stronger at Home

What is the issue?

Exercise improves physical and cognitive health. It also improves balance and mobility, quality of life, self-confidence, independence, and allows people to socialize. People living with dementia often do not get enough exercise. As a result, they miss out on these important benefits.    

Stronger at Home is an in-home exercise program led by volunteers. It aims to reduce falls and emergency room visits by providing exercises for people living with dementia. It also uses pre-recorded classes available on YouTube so that these individuals can participate in community exercise and falls prevention classes in the community from the comfort of their homes.

What did we do?

An occupational therapist or a registered kinesiologist met with 12 people with dementia at the beginning of the study. They assessed their ability to exercise and designed fitness programs for each person. Volunteers visited the people with dementia in their homes, twice a week for 12 weeks. They helped them with their exercise programs by providing encouragement and making sure they were doing the exercises correctlyThe same healthcare professionals evaluated the people with dementia at the end of the program.  

What did we find?

Participants liked the exercises and enjoyed having volunteers help them complete their exercise programs. All participants showed increases in mobility and an ability to perform their exercises. Balance testing results showed modest improvements