“She is challenging herself physically, using those muscles she needs to get out of a chair, to go upstairs.”
This comment is a tribute to the power of “Minds in Motion,” an Alzheimer Society program launching in Perth County during Alzheimer Awareness Month in January.
Designed for people with early to mid-stage signs of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias and their care partners, Minds in Motion incorporates physical activity and mental stimulation as a way of helping people live well with the disease, while encouraging care partners to take care of themselves as well.
If only 10 per cent of currently inactive Ontarians were to become active in accordance with the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, up to 1,200 individuals could decrease their risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Less than half of Ontario’s older adults get the recommended 2 ½ hours of physical activity per week, despite growing evidence that mental and social stimulation develop connections between brain cells, which in turn maintain cognitive functions longer.
Minds in Motion has built its program incorporating 45-60 minutes of physical exercise and 45-60 minutes of mentally stimulating activities.
Minds in Motion was first introduced in 2009 in British Columbia, in response to a need for community-based programming for people with early dementia and their care partners that did not make participants feel marginalized or embarrassed.
There are now over 20 programs across BC. Enthusiastic care partners say, “My partner with dementia is clear-headed after the class for two or three days.” People with dementia are just as keen with comments like, “It gets us out of the house. It’s great for our brains. It gets us socializing with other people.”
The social aspect of the program is a critical success factor. People with dementia often feel isolated because of the stigma associated with the disease. Minds in Motion promotes an environment that helps participants establish friendships with others who are living similar experiences.
The Alzheimer Society of Perth County is one of six Alzheimer Societies launching the program this month, thanks to start-up funds from the Ontario Brain Institute. Local supporters include Stratford-Perth YMCA and St. Marys Friendship Centre. The program will begin on Feb. 2 in Stratford, March 25 in St. Marys, and June 9 in Listowel.
To sign up for the next session of Minds in Motion, to volunteer with the program, or learn more, please call the Alzheimer Society of Perth County at 519-271-1910, ext. 25, or visit www.mindsinmotionontario.ca.