Henwood (2015) Physical and functional implications of aquatic exercise for nursing home residents with dementia


Aquatic exercise has shown promising benefits in improving the physical and functional well-being of nursing home residents with dementia. This innovative approach leverages the unique properties of water to offer a safe, effective, and enjoyable form of therapy.

Methodology: A Dive into Therapeutic Waters

The study involved a group of nursing home residents diagnosed with dementia, who participated in a structured aquatic exercise program. The program focused on exercises that promote balance, strength, and cognitive engagement, tailored to the needs of individuals with dementia.

Findings: A Wave of Positive Outcomes

Participants exhibited significant improvements in their physical capabilities, including enhanced balance and mobility. Moreover, the aquatic setting provided a calming environment, leading to noticeable reductions in dementia-related behavioral issues and an overall improvement in life quality.

Discussion: Beyond Just Physical Health

The findings underscore the multifaceted benefits of aquatic exercise for dementia patients, extending beyond physical health to encompass mental well-being and quality of life. The supportive and buoyant nature of water allows for exercise without the fear of falls, fostering a sense of confidence and independence among participants.


Aquatic exercise emerges as a valuable component in the holistic care of individuals with dementia, offering a blend of physical, psychological, and social benefits. It stands as a testament to the potential of non-pharmacological interventions in enhancing the lives of those affected by dementia.

Keywords: aquatic exercise, dementia, nursing home, physical therapy, functional improvement

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Abstract Exercise has reported benefits for those with dementia. In the current study we investigated the feasibility of delivery and the physical and functional benefits of an innovative aquatic exercise program for adults with moderate to severe dementia living in a nursing home aged care facility. Ten adults (88.4 years, inter quartile range 12.3) participated twice weekly for 12 weeks. Anthropometric and grip strength data, and measures of physical function and balance were collected at baseline and postintervention. Feasibility was assessed by attendance, participation, enjoyment and recruitment. Following exercise, participant’s left hand grip strength had improved significantly (p ¼ .017). Small to moderate effect sizes were observed for other measures. A number of delivery challenges emerged, but participant enjoyment, benefits and attendance suggest feasibility. Aquatic exercise shows promise as an intervention among those with dementia who live in a nursing home aged care facility. Greater program investigation is warranted.