Alzheimer’s Society and Sport England have joined forces to call on the sport and physical activity sector to commit to becoming dementia friendly and reduce the barriers that prevent many people affected by dementia from taking part in sport and physical activity.
The appeal was issued as Alzheimer’s Society launched its first Dementia-Friendly Sport and Physical Activity Guide at the Kia Oval cricket ground in London.
The guide has been developed in partnership with input from across the sports sector and people living with dementia, with National Lottery funding from Sport England. It is designed to help the sport and physical activity sector to support – and empower – people who are living with dementia to lead active lives and remain independent for as long as possible.
The practical guide aims to inform and educate individuals and organisations so they have a better knowledge of dementia and how it affects people. It also provides tools and guidance so that the sector can help more people affected by dementia enjoy the benefits of staying active in a caring and understanding environment.
As well as leisure centres, sports clubs and gyms, the guide can be used by any individual or group looking to deliver physical activity such as sports coaches, personal trainers, physiotherapist and occupational therapists or community leaders. It also highlights a selection of activities and ideas suitable for delivery in a variety of settings such as community halls, care homes and other non-traditional physical activity venues.
The launch is backed by people with dementia and pioneering figures from across the sport and the physical activity sector.
Tracey Shorthouse, 48, a former community staff nurse who lives near Folkestone, Kent, was diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer’s and Posterior Cortical Atrophy in 2015, and regularly visits her local gym.
‘I have a little exercise routine that’s really important to me because I know what’s good for the heart is good for the head and it probably keeps the dementia at bay.
‘My memory’s not bad at all – my dementia affects balance and vision and although I always put on a brave face it’s not all sweetness and light and can be scary but the gym has a feel-good factor.
‘I feel lucky that the people at the gym are so supportive and I hope gyms and sports centres follow their lead because the benefits of everything from walking football to work-outs are socially and physically vital to people with dementia.’
The guide is part of a £1.7 million National Lottery-funded partnership with the Richmond Group of charities, bringing together 10 of the biggest charities in health to deliver projects to help people with long term health conditions to get active.