Preventing deconditioning in those with an intellectual disability (ID), an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a physical disability (PD)

Vulnerable individuals, particularly those with a  or  (PD or ID) or an  (ASD) risk:

  • Motor deconditioning (loss of motor skills and functional autonomy),
  • Social deconditioning (loss of social ties),
  • Psychological deconditioning (emotional state and changes in behaviour), and,
  • For children, developmental delays due to confinement measures.

Preventing deconditioning is a priority for our organization and is included as part of the Ministry’s plan d’action de la deuxième vague de pandémie.

Activities to prevent deconditioning

Users with an ID, ASD, or PD must be able to receive interventions to prevent deconditioning. It is essential and all living environments (home, intermediary or family-type resource, or continuing care residences) must provide such interventions, as must readaptation environments (day centre and socioprofessional activities). Do not hesitate to discuss it to staff working with your child or loved one.

Significant and stimulating activities that generate positive feelings and provide entertainment are encouraged. Education on the importance of maintaining good lifestyle habits remains necessary to support and involve users in maintaining their empowerment, their autonomy, and to prevent their deconditioning.

Some examples of activities to keep occupied:

Psychological Wellbeing

  • Word searches and crosswords;
  • Sudokus;
  • Computer and video games;
  • Puzzles;
  • Artistic projects (such as drawing, crafts, etc.);
  • View photo albums or provide a digital photo frame;
  • Reading a book, magazine, or other work of interest;
  • Use various means of communication to help the user maintain contact their loved ones: telephone, e-mail, text messages, video calls, etc.;
  • Discussing positive aspects of their life story with a staff member during visits;
  • Practice meditation or other introspective activities;
  • Listen to music one enjoys;
  • Maintain a routine;
  • Engage in spiritual activities;
  • See the web page Stress, anxiety and depression associated with the coronavirus COVID 19 disease.

Fitness (autonomy and mobility)

  • Encourage the user to take part in daily tasks and chores within their living environment, adapted to their abilities;
  • Move their arms and legs on their own, while standing, sitting, or lying down, or if necessary, with assistance during individual and group activities. (Yoga, ball games, leisure activities, dance activities, etc.);
  • Encourage the user to change places and move about regularly in their room. Plan longer periods of mobility within the residence or outdoors, taking turns with each user;
  • Watch video capsules of exercises adapted for those with limited mobility (exercises while sitting or in a wheelchair, for example);
  • Change position regularly (every 30 minutes if possible);
  • If possible, stand up every hour or take advantage of staff interventions to get moving and prevent the risk of sores and contracture;
  • Encourage breathing activities for users with respiratory issues;
  • Provide technical aids required to ensure their safety and autonomy;
  • Play video games that stimulate movement (such as WII or others);
  • Go outside to get fresh air. If possible, and if safe, go outside for a walk along the sidewalk or in a park;
  • Go out into the community (for example, a restaurant, groceries, etc.).


  • Maintain healthy eating habits;
  • Drink regularly to stay well hydrated;
  • Inform those working on the living unit or loved ones if nutritional needs or habits change.


  • Do communication activities with children: word games, charades, reading development, etc.;
  • Participate in activity programs offered by staff based on their capabilities and interests.

Preventing deconditioning in seniors

Deconditioning is defined as the cumulative physical, cognitive, psychological and social consequences that result from inactivity, being sedentary for a period of time, or a lack of social and intellectual stimulation.

The Montréal West Island CIUSSS has created a series of posters that cover these three aspects the most affected by deconditioning, namely autonomy and mobility, nutrition and hydration, and cognitive and psychological well-being. Some of these posters are addressed to the population at large and to residents of private residences for seniors (PRS), while others are intended for informal caregivers and the employees and operators of PRS.

Deconditioning: We all have a part to play!

What is Deconditioning?

Deconditioning refers to the cumulative physical, cognitive, psychological and social consequences that result from inactivity, being sedentary for a period of time, or a lack of social and intellectual stimulation.

Important aspects to preventing deconditioning:

  1. Awareness: Seniors, informal caregivers, and staff must understand the importance of remaining active, socializing, as well proper diet and hydration to healthy aging;
  2. Actions: PRS operators must put in place activities that improve and maintain the health of their residents;
  3. Vigilance: PRS operators must be attentive to any deterioration in the three areas mentioned above in order to direct seniors to the appropriate care and services.


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