One Size Does Not Fit All!

Thank you for visiting us at Advocare. We provide Aging Life CareTM to area residents throughout the South Florida area.

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In collaboration with Aging Life Care Professional™ / care manager Helene Bergman, my dementia specialist mentor, I have been able to assist clients with dementia build and maintain resilience through the use of what I have come to call Chair Yogacise. Chair Yoga was developed to fill a void for those who loved Yoga but were unable to practice it for many reasons including disability, obesity, or just being unable to get on and off a mat. Adults recovering from cancer or those suffering chronic neurological disorders gravitated to it for exercise, serenity, and self-esteem. Chair yoga is a safe method for stretching, strengthening, and meditating.

Chair Yogacise is Yoga without the mat, including ballet balancing techniques without the bar, and a series of upper and lower body flexibility and strengthening exercises on and off the chair. I have developed successful approaches to work with individuals with dementia, using a variety of methods to overcome the many challenges this condition presents.  Since the disease doesn’t stand still, neither can I.  What might have worked in the first six months with an individual client might not work any longer. My client who always followed my movement by simply watching with some verbal cues along the way now can’t.  When I say, “let’s do some shoulder rolls”, and I realize she no longer knows what the word “shoulder” means or where it is, I know to switch gears.

From the start, it has been clear that actions, and objects, speak louder than words. With that in mind, I integrated bands and balls into sessions. The bands are used by each of us holding one in each hand and as I initiate lateral movements, we stretch and flow to the music. And who doesn’t like to throw a ball? Using two size balls (soft of course), one small and one beach ball size, we throw and catch– reinforcing large and small motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Actions such as trying to pick up the ball as well as reaching for it as you bend down without falling backwards requires balance. These movements are also strengthening. They demand the quads to kick in as if one were doing squats, especially when it’s repeated several times over. Sometimes my client understands, “throw it back to me.” When she doesn’t, I can model the action desired.

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