How Can Sport Help Improve the Quality of Life for Someone Living With Dementia

Written by Active Minds on Tuesday the 3rd of October 2017.

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There is a common misconception that at a certain age one should start to eschew physical activity in favour of more gentle, indoor pursuits. However, whilst calming and relaxing hobbies, such as reading or crosswords, do without a doubt have benefits, more physical activities should still be embraced.  The same is true for someone who has been diagnosed with dementia.

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Whilst undertaking a marathon may not be suitable, taking part in team sports such as bowls or tennis, is a great way to keep active and healthy. Weekly physical activity sessions keep the heart healthy, the blood pumping and the brain active. These team sports also encourage socialising, which is incredibly important after a dementia diagnosis, as many people become depressed and can retreat into themselves. However, by meeting others, talking and sharing stories, their mood can be lifted. Sport also encourages independence, showing a person living with dementia that, regardless of their diagnosis, they can still take part in social and physical activities and enjoy themselves.

Programmes such as Extra Time, funded by Football Foundation and Sport Relief, have realised the power of sport for elderly people, and have created an organisation which encourages over-55’s to participate in different sporting activities to help “tackle physical heath, emotional wellbeing and social isolation.” In fact, the organisation reported that since the creation of Extra Time, 70% of participants found that every day tasks were easier, and 21% felt that their physical health had improved so much that they were using their health services less.

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However, if you, or someone you love, are further along in your dementia journey and unable to participate in sports activities, then sports can still have a positive impact. Spend time reminiscing about a sport in which you or your loved one enjoyed taking part in or watching. If football was a favourite, then look through old football photos, dig out trophies, or reminisce watching a DVD of a favourite and historic match. You can also buy reminiscence DVD’s and Books, such as our Sporting Life edition, which takes you back on a journey through summer sports days, ice-skating on frozen lakes and braving a swim in the chilly outdoor pools of England.