The ASA believes that swimming can be used to enhance the quality of life experienced by people with dementia because it offers a sense of mental well-being. And though this can’t easily be measured, it is often anecdotally mentioned by thousands of regular swimmers.
The relative weightlessness experienced while submersed in water reduces anxiety, clears the mind and encourages positivity and self-worth, many people – including myself – believe.
Certainly it’s a subject very close to heart. Feeling very depressed after my business failed a few years I began swimming in open water which I felt really helped really put things into perspective. And this year I lost my own mother to Alzheimer’s – a terrible disease that robs its victims of their dignity as well as their memories.
In England, roughly 225,000 people develop dementia ever year, which equates to around one person every three minutes. There are currently around 670,000 people living with dementia which costs the UK economy over £26 billion per year.
The ASA are doing their bit to help by developing the Dementia Friendly Swimming Project which aims to improve the experience of swimming for those living with dementia and their carers by improving facilities and removing barriers.
This will not only give the positive effects a person experiences when in water, but also work to reduce loneliness through creating opportunities to socialise and make friends.
Alzheimer’s Society operations manager for County Durham and Tees Valley, Samuel Palombella, said: “We’re delighted that people with dementia, their carers and their loved ones will benefit from this dementia-friendly swimming project, which we are sure will be a huge success.
“This initiative will encourage people living with dementia to lead an active lifestyles which means they can continue to live well within their own communities and maintain independence.
“A dementia diagnosis should not signal the end of anyone’s favourite pastimes and that’s why we so warmly welcome the arrival of dementia-friendly swimming because what is good for the heart is also good for the head.”