Award-Winning WAVES Aquatic Program

WAVES is an aquatic program designed for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It won the Best of the Best Award in 2010 from Argentum’s senior living association in Alzheimer’s and dementia programming.

WAVES is an award-winning aquatic therapy program for seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It was developed in 2009 by the Senior Living Communities Wellness Department. Let’s examine the multiple benefits of WAVES:

Aquatic Exercise

As neurodegenerative diseases progress in individuals, it is a top priority for caregivers to ensure that seniors continue to participate in physical exercise. High-impact exercises (running, tennis, etc.) result in a significant amount of jumping, and jolting, which can put a lot of force on bones and joints when landing. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have difficulty standing, jumping and balancing, so having an exercise with a low impact is beneficial. For years, water therapy has been a means of strengthening the body with low impact and gentle movements. Recent studies (1) have shown that aquatic therapy may have significant benefits on the brain, and have been shown to boost independence in the activities of daily living (ADL).

Benefits of aquatic exercise include:

  • Buoyancy – While submerged in water, buoyancy supports the weight of an individual and decreases the amount of weight on joints. By decreasing the amount of joint stress it is easier and less painful to perform exercises.
  • Resistance – The viscosity of water creates a source of resistance that is easily experienced in water. It allows for muscle strengthening without the need for weights, bands, or other equipment.
  • Warmth – Utilizing a pool with warm water assists in relaxing muscles, decreasing blood pressure to increase blood flow to injured areas.
  • Balance & Strength – Aquatic therapy promotes balance by increasing core strength and leg muscles. The increase in participants’ stability will decrease fall risk.
  • Nutrition – As with most physical activity, when we exercise, our bodies burn fuel. As a result, our appetite increases.

WAVES Overview

In 2009, Senior Living Communities developed the WAVES Program, an aquatic-based experience, led by Wellness professionals in a heated indoor therapy pool. Thus giving Alzheimer’s and Memory Care residents a safe, beneficial, and fun way to exercise.

Through evidence-based research, with program participants, WAVES has shown to stimulate cognitive and cardiovascular function while increasing appetite and lowering agitation. This program also creates an opportunity for personal bonding between our residents, their caregivers, family members, and wellness team members. As they enter the water and work through the exercises together, it enhances our goal of person-centered care.

Benefits of the WAVES Program include:

  • Reduction of Anxiety and Stress
  • Increased Strength
  • Improved Balance
  • Stimulated Appetite
  • Uniform Sleeping Patterns
  • Stronger Bonds with Caregivers

To learn more about how we continue to provide person-centered care for our Members with Alzheimer’s and dementia speak to a Lifestyle Advisor today at 843-903-9100 .

1.) Neville C, Henwood T, Beattie E, Fielding E. Exploring the effect of aquatic exercise on behaviour and psychological well-being in people with moderate to severe dementia: a pilot study of the Watermemories Swimming Club. Australas J Ageing. 2014 Jun;33(2):124-7. doi: 10.1111/ajag.12076. Epub 2013 Jul 3. PMID: 24521103.