This summer, the Alzheimer Society is encouraging everybody to get off the couch and get active, be social, eat right and challenge your brain. It’s the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, which benefits not only your body but your brain as well. They can help your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. But they also slow the progression of the disease for those who already have it.
Have you heard of Minds in Motion®? It is a new Alzheimer Society program based on these simple concepts for people with early-stage dementia and their care partners. But after leading my first 10-week session, I’m convinced that the greatest power of Minds in Motion is how it brings so many people together. You can make new friends and create a social support network that is not only good for your brain, but just makes you feel happy as well.
The distinctive feature of Minds in Motion is the opportunity for care partners to join in with what’s happening. Not to drop off and ask later what was done during the program, but a chance to be an active part of what was going on.
Perhaps the greatest pleasure I had running the program was greeting people as they arrived. One care partner quietly whispered, “Mum seems to have more bounce in her step.” Another said, “My husband actually agreed to leave the TV and go for a walk this weekend.” These might seem like small things. But we all know the small things add up.
The best comment I heard from one care partner was that her husband is smiling more and laughing during conversations with her again. I could see what she meant. This particular gentleman arrived at the first session with the look of someone as thrilled as if he was going to the dentist. I wondered how much he really wanted to be here.
Things changed over the weeks. At the last session while saying good bye, he hugged me and thanked me for all that we’d done. There’s something about being connected with others who are going through the same struggle that heals. And in my experience, there’s much evidence that shows how important being active and getting together with others is for the human spirit, including and maybe especially for people with dementia and their care partners.
Minds in Motion Coordinator, Alzheimer Society of Hamilton-Halton