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The Happy Antics Holistic Program May Help Dementia Sufferers

Harold Mandel's picture
Happy Antics Holistic and Dementia

Dementia can be a horrifying condition that undermines the well being of sufferers and loved ones alike. It often appears as if there is nothing that can be done to help people afflicted with dementia which generates feelings of hopelessness and helplessness among sufferers of the condition and caregivers. New research which shows that holistic exercise may help people with dementia offers a more positive assessment of the possibilities in dealing with this condition.

There may be psychological and physical benefits from holistic exercise for people suffering from dementia reported the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. However, there has been a lack of research dealing with this matter. Researchers therefore decided to study the feasibility and acceptance of holistic exercise for people suffering from dementia.

The researchers designed and implemented a holistic exercise program specifically for people afflicted with dementia. There were than interviews aimed at exploring participants' experience of holistic exercise which were than analyzed. There were seven themes generated from the data, including:

1: Enjoyment

2: Relaxation

3: Keeping active

4: Social interaction

5: Pain relief

6: Learning something new

7: Intention to continue

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The researchers concluded from the results of this study that there was feasibility and acceptance of holistic exercise for people with dementia. Furthermore, the participants appeared have a positive gain in regard to psychological and physical wellbeing.

Dementia patients are at risk of suffering from depression and declining physical and mental ability, and it is therefore significant that holistic exercise can help improve their physical and psychological wellbeing reports Elsevier in a review of this research. A research team from Teesside University in the United Kingdom explored how combining cognitive activities with various holistic activities and routine physical exercise affected dementia patients. The holistic activities included:

1: Yoga

2: Tai chi

3: Qigong

4: Meditation

The researchers observed that a holistic exercise program which focuses on both mind and body can help improve the quality of life for people suffering from dementia. This study was done in association with the Alzheimer’s Society (UK). The researchers developed the Happy Antics program, which is a holistic exercise plan that integrates physical movements with activities which are designed to take into consideration the emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual health of patients.

All of the participants in the Happy Antics program reported that they enjoyed taking part in the holistic exercise sessions and that they looked forward to attending them. The participants felt these sessions helped them socially. Some of the patients said the sessions helped them feel more relaxed and they experienced some degree of pain relief. Feelings of empowerment from learning to do the new exercises were shared by some of the patients.

Lead investigator Yvonne J-Lyn Khoo, BSc, MSc, PhD, has said when the wellness approach is applied to exercise holistic exercise has a goal of encouraging people not only to take part in the physical activities, but also to develop an awareness of their own physical and psychological states. They strive to perform exercise which is purposeful and meaningful to them. Overall this resulted in the holistic mind-and-body approach being enjoyable and helpful for patients suffering from dementia. Participants also showed improvement in memory recall.

Participation by caregivers was included in the Happy Antics program. The program had positive effects on dementia patients and the caregivers alike. One caregiver reported experiencing less pain after attending these sessions. This is important because caregivers of people suffering from dementia must cope with physical and psychological distress. This all resulted in the promising findings that the Happy Antics program was able to stimulate and engage people with dementia in exercise while also providing them with a social learning environment which offers potential psychological benefits.

It is really encouraging that the Happy Antics program helped both people suffering from dementia and caregivers alike. This offers a view of more sustainability of affirmative care for people suffering from dementia. A holistic approach to this problem has proven to be beneficial in many dimensions including enjoyment. The promise of improving the quality of life of dementia sufferers with this approach is groundbreaking.