Helping people with dementia get active

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Guide to dementia-friendly sport and physical activity

“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.”

For Tracey Shorthouse, taking part in physical activity at her local gym plays a crucial role in managing her condition.
The 48-year-old, who was diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer’s and Posterior Cortical Atrophy in 2015, is one of 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK.

“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,” explains Tracey.

“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 are socially and physically vital to people with dementia.”

Yet, despite dementia being increasingly common, many people with the condition struggle to live active lives and say there can be many barriers that prevent them taking part in activity.

These could include difficulty in navigating around a sports facility or remembering how to use equipment in a leisure centre. Others worry about people’s reactions: for example, staff not understanding their difficulties, or a lack of confidence in finding the right activities.

Bringing down barriers

We believe sport and physical activity is something everyone should be able to enjoy and benefit from.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Society to produce a dementia-friendly sport and physical activity guide.

The guide, which was produced with National Lottery funding and can be downloaded here, aims to help the sports sector bring down barriers that prevent people living with dementia from taking part in sport and physical activity.

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.

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