Keeping active is an important part of staying healthy and giving you the best chance of managing to live well with dementia. So earlier this year, the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) launched a pilot scheme in Manchester and Durham to make it easier, and more enjoyable, for people with dementia and their carers to access swimming sessions.
The aim of the Dementia Friendly Swimming Project is to build up a network of dementia friendly swimming pools, training staff and health care professionals to make them aware of some of the challenges faced by people living with dementia so that they can see what changes need to be made at the pool to create a warm, friendly and safe environment.
The pilot scheme running in Manchester is proving a huge success and has won several local awards. Already, participants are reporting positive results, including improvements in their sense of wellbeing, and the ASA are optimistic that these will continue to build as the scheme progresses.
The ASA firmly believe that swimming holds the possibility of providing many benefits that can have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia. They stress that:
- Swimming can offer a sense of mental wellbeing, something which cannot be easily measured but is mentioned by thousands of participants.
- It helps clear the mind, encourages positivity in individuals and builds a sense of self-worth.
- Swimming can soothe the mind and reduce anxiety
- It can relax the body by supporting it in a relatively weightless environment
- It can offer opportunities to socialise.
- It can reduce loneliness and contribute to creating a sense of place.
Gathering evidence of success is an important part of the project explains Lara Lill, Head of Health and Wellbeing at the ASA.
We decided that we wanted to make sure that we gather all the evidence because there is very little research that exists on swimming and dementia. So this is groundbreaking research.
We can't prove that swimming can cure dementia, but we can show it improves a person's quality of life.
Head of Health & Wellbeing, Amateur Swimming Association
From next year, the intention is then to roll out the scheme to other towns and cities utilising the knowledge and experience gained.