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.


Aim: To explore the effects of a dementia-specific, aquatic exercise intervention on behavioural and psychological symptoms in people with dementia (BPSD).

Method: Residents from two aged care facilities in Queensland, Australia, received a 12-week intervention consisting of aquatic exercises for strength, agility, flexibility, balance and relaxation. The Psychological Well-Being in Cognitively Impaired Persons Scale (PW-BCIP) and the Revised Memory and Behaviour Problems Checklist (RMBPC) were completed by registered nurses at baseline, week 6, week 9 and post intervention.

Results: Ten women and one man (median age = 88.4 years, interquartile range = 12.3) participated. Statistically significant declines in the RMBPC and PW-BCIP were observed over the study period.

Conclusion: Preliminary evidence suggests that a dementia-specific, aquatic exercise intervention reduces BPSD and improves psychological well-being in people with moderate to severe dementia. With further testing, this innovative intervention may prove effective in addressing some of the most challenging aspects of dementia care.

Keywords: behavioural and psychological symptoms; dementia; long-term care; non-pharmacological intervention.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Checklist
  • Cognition
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Health
  • Pilot Projects
  • Queensland
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Swimming Pools*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome