Calming swimming therapy for Alzheimers patients

Tracey Crouch, Jonathan McShane, Adam Parker and Lara Lill with Annie Mangion and Helen O'Malley

Tracey Crouch, Jonathan McShane, Adam Parker and Lara Lill with Annie Mangion and Helen O'Malley - Credit: Archant

An award-winning project that encourages people living with dementia to continue to enjoy the calming benefits of swimming is being rolled out in Hackney.

The expansion of the project to six new areas was marked by a special event at Clissold Leisure Centre, Stoke Newington, with Tracey Crouch MP, representatives from the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association), and the Alzheimer’s Society in attendance.

Launched in February the Dementia Friendly Swimming Project was piloted in Durham and Manchester, and has been recognised at the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Awards 2015 and the Spirit of Manchester Awards.

Dementia describes a set of symptoms that can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, which can occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The project has three main elements, one of which is to train staff to be better able to deal with people who may be living with dementia, both inside the pool and in the reception areas.

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The pool and leisure centre environment must also be as accessible as possible by ensuring sure signs are easy to see, and there shoudl be a range of range of low intensity exercise classes, relaxation sessions and structured motivational swimming lessons aimed specifically at people living with dementia and their carers.

Adam Paker, Chief Executive of the ASA, said: “Swimming helps to reduce anxiety by clearing the mind and relaxing the body. It also offers important opportunities for people to socialise, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.

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“With an ageing population and the numbers of people diagnosed with dementia set to rise, the Dementia Friendly Swimming Project is an incredibly important initiative.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch added: “Staying healthy and active is incredibly important at every stage of life. For people living with dementia, low impact exercise such as swimming can be beneficial for both their physical and mental health.”

The ASA will now be working in Bristol, Nottingham, Crawley, Barking and Dagenham and Hackney and Tower Hamlets to create a network of swimming pools that are safe and welcoming for people living with dementia.

Over the next two years the plan is to create a network of over 100 dementia-friendly pools.

Tracey Crouch, Jonathan McShane, Adam Parker and Lara Lill with Annie Mangion and Helen O’Malley

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