Care homes are embracing yoga as a method of promoting mindfulness through meditation, as well as improving cardiovascular fitness and reducing depression. Tania Plahay runs a pilot therapeutic yoga programme for people with dementia in care homes and her book Yoga For Dementia is based on the findings from that programme. Tania has a dedicated page to Yoga for Dementia on her website yogafordementia.com. Here, she tells Care & Nursing Essentials editor Victoria Galligan about her book and the benefits of yoga for residents, families and staff...
How does yoga help people living with dementia?
Yoga, guided meditations and mindfulness can help people living with dementia on many levels:
- On a physical level yoga asana (physical) sequences can help people work towards recommended exercise targets and improve cardiovascular fitness
- Many people living with dementia also have depression: yoga and meditation have been seen to be effective in helping reduce this
- Yoga exercises can help people release anger, reduce agitation and promote calm.
- Breathing exercises help improve how people breath. This has many benefits, including promoting the production of positive feel good hormones.
- Physical postures help people to locate themselves in space, promoting better orientation and balance.
How and where are Yoga for Dementia sessions run?
Yoga sessions can be run in care homes and private homes by carers, activities coordinators, or yoga teachers. It is best to run the physical sessions before meal times. I recommend starting with short sessions, maybe lasting 10 – 15 minutes and increasing the length of these as groups get familiar with the activities. There are also very nice calming yoga based activates that can be done before bed.
Can carers and family members practice yoga with dementia patients?
Yes! I would encourage carers and family members to practice alongside those living with dementia. The majority of activities within ‘Yoga for Dementia’ work very well if practiced together. Carers and family members will benefit immensely from the postures and breathing exercises. For example, people living with dementia may have poor posture with tight shoulders and necks, and many carers carry stress and tension in their shoulders. Therefore, doing something very simple like the shoulder sequences together can help both carers and clients feel better together.
What does your website Yoga for Dementia offer for carers?
My website offers more information about how yoga can help those living with dementia. It includes links to up-to-date research and studies on yoga and dementia including the results of the 18-month trial I ran. It also includes some video of short practices carers can do with their clients.
How can your book Yoga for Dementia help carers who want to run sessions?
As well as providing a comprehensive background to what yoga is, and how yoga works to counter the effects of ageing and dementia, my book contains a whole chapter on how to run yoga sessions for those living with dementia.
This chapter provides everything you need to know, including what you’ll need before you start, tips on when you should practice and how you should begin, as well as important principles to remember. The information within the chapter is tried and tested with carers and activities coordinators providing a go to guide to those wishing to start a yoga programme in their home.
For more information see: yoga4dementia.com