Minds in Motion® is a New Alzheimer Society Social Program for People With Dementia and Their Care Partners

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You can do something about dementia, stroke, and heart disease.

Dementia, stroke and heart disease share common risk factors, and each increases the risk of the other. The good news is that the incidence of these diseases can be mitigated by the same healthy lifestyle.

Modeled after the increasing evidence linking a socially, physically and mentally stimulating lifestyle to helping decrease the incidence or progression of diseases, the Alzheimer Society of Ontario introduced Minds in Motion® this spring. The new program designed for people with signs of Alzheimer’s and their care partners helps improve balance, mobility, flexibility, and alertness. Ultimately, it increases participants’ confidence and sharpens their mental functioning. Because you can do something about dementia.

“Research continues to show that physical activity and mental stimulation are good for you, and good for your brain,” reminds David Harvey, the Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s Chief Public Policy and Program Initiatives Officer. “They encourage the development of new cells and new connections, a process the brain is capable of doing at any age! Not only can this slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, it can decrease the risk of developing the disease.”

Dementia, stroke and heart disease share common risk factors, and each increases the risk of the other. While approximately one-in-three Ontarians will develop stroke, dementia or both, the incidence of these diseases can be mitigated by the same healthy lifestyle: being physically active, eating right, challenging your brain and staying social.

In fact:

  •     Vascular cognitive impairment (or a decline in thinking skills caused by brain cells having been deprived of vital oxygen and nutrients) affects up to 60% of stroke survivors.
  •     3 in 5 stroke survivor will develop cognitive impairment.
  •     People physically inactive are twice as likely for risk of heart disease.
  •     Older adults without Alzheimer’s disease who are very physically active are 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who were inactive.
  •     Up to 1,200 cases of Alzheimer’s disease could potentially be prevented in Ontario if only 10% of currently inactive Ontarians were to become active in accordance to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines1.
  •     Less than half of Ontario’s older adults get the recommended 2 ½ hours of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week.

“The social aspect of Minds in Motion is also a critical success factor. People with dementia often feel isolated because of the stigma associated with the disease. Minds in Motion offers an environment that helps participants establish friendships with others who are living similar experiences,” adds David Harvey. “And being held in a community-based multi-service centre, the program also exposes participants to a variety of recreational and social programs.”

The Alzheimer Society of Ontario is now piloting the program in twelve locations across the province:

  •     The Alzheimer Society of Grey-Bruce (program offered in Hanover and Owen Sound)
  •     The Alzheimer Society of Hamilton Halton (program offered in Milton and Oakville
  •     The Alzheimer Society of Waterloo Wellington (program offered in Cambridge, Kitchener and Guelph)
  •     The Alzheimer Society of London-Middlesex (program offered in London and Strathroy)
  •     The Alzheimer Society of Sudbury-Manitoulin (program offered in Sudbury and Manitoulin)
  •     The Alzheimer Society of Thunder Bay (program offered in two communities within the broader city of Thunder Bay)

Start-up funds from the Ontario Brain Institute enabled the Alzheimer Society of Ontario to develop and facilitate the initial launch of the program, and an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant is funding the balance of the two-year pilot.

To sign-up, volunteer with the program, or learn more about Minds in Motion, please visit mindsinmotionontario.ca.

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Pascale Guillotte
Alzheimer Society of Ontario
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