Background: This study aimed to test the effects of yoga exercises on the physical and mental health of elderly people with dementia living in long-term care facilities.
Methods: A quasi-experimental, pretest–post-test design was used. A convenience sample of 68 residents in long-term care facilities in southern Taiwan, aged 60 years and above with mild to moderate dementia, was selected. An experimental group of 33 elders participated in a 12-week yoga training program of three 55-minute sessions a week; a control group of 35 elders maintained their usual daily activities. Data were collected before and after completing the 12-week study. Measurements included body composition, cardiopulmonary functions, body flexibility, muscle strength and endurance, balance, joints motion, depression, and problem behaviors.
Results: The yoga-trained participants had better physical and mental health than those who did not participate, including lowered blood pressure, reduced respiration rate, strengthened cardiopulmonary fitness, enhanced body flexibility, improved muscle strength and endurance, improved balance, and increased joints motion (all p values < 0.05). In addition, the depression state (p < 0.001) and problem behaviors (p < 0.001) of these demented elders were significantly reduced.
Conclusion: Yoga exercise has positive benefits for both the physical and mental health of elders with dementia living in long-term care facilities. It is recommended that yoga be included as one of the routine activities in these long-term care facilities.