In 2015, we awarded British Gymnastics Foundation £10,000 of National Lottery funding to deliver a chair-based gymnastics exercise programme called Love to Move. Its aim was to get older people moving and functioning better, especially those living with dementia.
More than three-quarters of a million people currently live with dementia in the UK and it’s expected that one in three of us will develop the condition at some point in our lives.
Reaping the benefits
More than 150 people have taken part in the Love to Move programme across the UK, and research conducted by Age UK shows there were benefits to physical and mental health, as well as improving people’s cognitive abilities.
In particular, those taking part reported improved posture, better movement and greater memory.
Older people with mild to advanced forms of dementia appeared to benefit the most.
Improvements ranged from participants being able to use their hands again to feed themselves, do crafts and play bingo as well as socialising with friends and family. One woman even regained her independence and moved back in to her own home.
Assessments made by care home staff found:
- 71% (10 out of 14 participants) reported to have had noticeable physical improvements
- 86% (12 out of 14 participants) reported to be socialising with other residents and staff better
- 93% (13 out of 14 participants) of participants reported to be happier and more settled
- 100% (14 out of 14 participants) of participants reported as easier to connect with.
The exercise classes feature specially-designed bilaterally asymmetrical exercises where the older person draws different patterns with the left-hand side of their body to the right-hand side.
Making a difference
After being diagnosed with dementia, Hazel was withdrawn from life and refused to leave the comfort of her own room.
She was encouraged to try Love to Move classes in her care home, which soon saw her begin to re-engage with life.