DEMENTIA patients and their carers can benefit substantially from specially designed ‘dementia friendly’ swimming lessons, according to researchers from the University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK. The study found that these lessons can enhance quality of life for those with the condition and also provide carers with a break from their responsibilities as well as the chance to get help and support from other carers.
For the study, interviews were conducted with patients and carers who took part in dementia friendly swimming lessons to ascertain their experiences over a 7-week period in a leisure centre in Nottingham. Staff at the leisure centre who helped run the sessions were also interviewed for their experiences and ideas for how the sessions could potentially be improved.
The feedback from the participants was unanimously positive, with the dementia patients describing the significant enjoyment they got from it, one stating: “It’s been absolutely brilliant!”
Aside from helping fitness, other benefits for the dementia participants included increasing confidence levels through their interactions with others. One individual in particular gained a lot of confidence by helping out and encouraging weaker swimmers. Another benefit was that it provided an opportunity to exercise and release energy for the dementia patients; this is important because restlessness and pacing are common symptoms of dementia, which can be difficult for carers to manage.
Benefits for the Carers
For the carers, the swimming lessons provided them with a break from their usual responsibilities. They were also able to interact with other dementia carers, providing them with a valuable support network. However, one carer did comment that she did not want to socialise with other carers as she wanted a break from the dementia carer environment.
Prof Tom Dening, University of Nottingham, commented: “Our study suggests there is huge potential for these specially organised swimming lessons to improve the quality of life of people and their carers.”
The team concluded that the opportunity to socialise with others in a similar situation to themselves was one of the most important benefits for both carers and dementia patients. Additionally, the chance to regularly leave the home environment for this activity was strongly valued by most of the participants.
James Coker, Reporter
For the source and further information about the study, click here.