Inclusion and Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a set of symptoms. These symptoms can be caused by a variety of disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and mixed dementia. People diagnosed with dementia experience a decline in cognition that reduces their ability to perform everyday activities. These may include changes to memory, judgement, mobility, speech, sensory perception, emotion, behaviour and others.
Every person living with dementia experiences things differently. Capacity for activities, abilities, challenges, and symptoms can fluctuate over time, day to day, and even time of day. People living with dementia often have many strengths, and continue to live well by being involved in activities that they enjoy.
This video from the Alzheimer Society describes the causes of dementia, types of dementia, how dementia affects the brain, and common symptoms experienced by people living with dementia.
DICE Handout: Understanding Dementia
This handout describes different types of dementia and changes that people living with dementia may experience over time.
Rights of People Living with Dementia
People living with dementia have the right to participate as active members of their community and choose where, when, and how to be involved. Additionally, people living with dementia have the right to access programs and services where they are understood, respected, and supported. Staff, volunteers, and peers who provide programs and services in the community should be well-informed about dementia and use language and actions that consider the individual’s unique abilities, preferences, experiences, and needs.
In recognition of the rights of persons living with dementia, the Alzheimer Society of Canada launched the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia in 2019. The Charter is the result of work by the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s Advisory group of people living with dementia. The video below details the development and importance of the Canadian Charter of Rights for People Living with Dementia.
DICE Handout: Rights of People Living with Dementia
This handout describes how the United Nations Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities supports the rights of people living with dementia for inclusion in wellness programs.
Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia
The Charter defines seven explicit rights to empower individual to self-advocate as a person living with dementia in Canada. It also ensures that the people and organizations that support people living with dementia know their rights.
Dementia-inclusive communities ensure that people living with dementia are understood, respected, supported, and included. Community programs and services must offer a variety of supports to include people living with dementia. This involves designing environments that are easy to navigate, welcoming, and based on the unique needs of people living with dementia and their care partners. Additionally, this means increasing awareness and reducing stigma around dementia among staff, volunteers, and others involved in the programs to support inclusivity.
This video titled “I have Dementia but I’m Still Me” shows the diverse faces and experiences of people living with dementia and their family, friends, and supporters. The video was produced by the DICE Team.
DICE Handout: Dementia-Inclusive Communities
This handout describes factors that make a community and services inclusive for people living with dementia.
Exercise and Dementia
Benefits of Physical Activity
Physical activity is a key component of a healthy lifestyle. It involves any activity where you spend energy on movement. Physical activity offers many benefits for people living with dementia, including improved strength, balance, mobility, cognitive abilities, and aerobic fitness. Additionally, the social benefits of physical activity, including feelings of inclusion, encouragement, and social interaction, are often the most highlighted benefits among people living with dementia.
Physical activity may look different for everyone. Physical activity choices are influenced by individual’s abilities, health conditions, goals, culture, experiences, and access to activities and amenities, and therefore should be individualized. The physical activity recommendations for people living with dementia are the same as all adults which includes moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity, strength training, activities that challenge balance, and light intensity regular movements throughout the day. It is important to note that any amount of physical activity can be beneficial for people living with dementia.
This video titled “Staying Active Helps Me Live Well with Dementia” introduces the broad benefits of physical activity for people living with dementia. This video was produced by the DICE Team.
Physical Activity Guidelines for People Living with Dementia
“It’s time to get active” was developed by the Ontario Brain Institute, and revised in partnership with the DICE Team. The resource shares physical activity guidelines for dementia and strategies to get active.
Dementia-inclusive physical activity refers to exercise opportunities, programs, and facilities that respect, support, and accommodate the needs of people living with dementia. This is done by learning more about the person, their routines, and their access to equipment, programs, recreation facilities, or green spaces so that physical activity advice is tailored, meaningful, and achievable. Close supervision and monitoring will also help to support cognitive challenges and reduce potential safety issues. People living with dementia should participate in exercise where, when, and how they want, to experience the physical, social, cognitive, and mental benefits of physical activity. Before exercising or joining a new exercise program, all individuals should complete a Get Active Questionnaire to assess their readiness and safety to be physically active.
This video titled “Dementia-Inclusive Exercise: A Little Support Goes A Long Way” discusses how small supports and adaptations can help support inclusion of people living with dementia in physical activity, exercise, sport, and recreational programs and activities. This video was produced by the DICE Team.
DICE Wallet Card: People with Dementia
This foldable resource is to help people with dementia to communicate their abilities, experiences and preferences. This will help exercise providers understand and adapt to the individual.
DICE Wallet Card: People with Memory Challenges
This foldable resource is to help people with memory challenges to communicate their abilities, experiences and preferences. This will help exercise providers understand and adapt to the individual.