Can Walking And Gardening Help People With Dementia?

Can Walking And Gardening Help People With Dementia?

A walk along the Brighton seafront or cutting the grass in the back garden could have a positive effect on people with dementia. Researchers in Sussex are trying to understand how regular physical activity relates to quality of life by maintaining the well-being and self-worth of people with dementia. Volunteers are being sought to take part in this research. The study team are looking for people with a diagnosis of dementia and a family carer who is also willing to participate in the study, living in East Sussex, West Sussex and the Brighton and Hove area.

Dr Nicolas Farina from the Centre for Dementia Studies at Brighton and Sussex Medical School says: “A cure for dementia may not be found for several years so it is important that we help people with dementia live as well with their condition as possible.”

“Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving, whether that’s walking, doing the gardening, or playing bowls. People of all activity levels are able to take part in this study. As with any physical activity, there is always the potential risk of injury, but participants will not be asked to increase their normal physical activity levels, lessening any further risk. The research doesn’t just looking at the health benefits of exercise but also how it effects peoples’ quality of life.”

Study volunteers (the person with dementia and carer) will be visited in their homes or another location by a researcher who will complete a series of questionnaires about their activities, health and wellbeing.

As a novel part of the study, volunteers with dementia will be asked to wear an activity monitor for a month on their wrists to measure their level of physical activity. The device will not need to be charged, taken off, and there is no need for interaction with the device at any point. The device does not have any means of tracking location (i.e. GPS). Participants can choose not to wear the activity monitor device and continue to remain in the study.

Alan and Fiona from West Sussex have taken part in the study. Alan has Alzheimer’s disease and is determined to live well with his condition.

Alan says: “I won’t let Alzheimer’s disease get the better of me. I feel it is important that research is done to minimise the speed of deterioration and enable people to live as well as possible with the effects of the illness”.

Fiona says: “The set-up of the study was smooth and the researcher who visited us carefully explained what we had to do. Alan wears a watch all the time so wearing the device on his other arm was not a problem. Taking part in this research also encouraged me to become more active.”

Alan says: “I am still very active, I go to the gym a few times a week, go to the dry-ski slope and spend time in the swimming pool. I did not need to alter my routine and continued with my hobbies as normal.”

Dr Kate Jones, Chief Operating Officer for National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network Kent, Surrey and Sussex says: “We are proud to support this crucial research into improving the lives of people with dementia and contributing to their improved health on this programme.”

If you are interested in taking part in the study, contact Serena Thomas on 01273 873211.