Swimming program helps dementia patients reignite memories

06 October, 2011

A University of Queensland project team has created a specialised swim club to help people living with dementia rekindle the positive memories of swimming.

According to project leader of Watermemories Swim Club, Associate Professor Christine Neville from the UQ School of Nursing and Midwifery, the sensation of swimming will assist people diagnosed with dementia to access memories.

"It is primarily a pleasure-based experience," Associate Professor Neville said.

"The pleasant memories associated with swimming and being in the water will help reawaken memories for people living with dementia who have enjoyed this fun and social activity previously," she said.

"We also hope that there will be other positive outcomes such as better physical health, improved sleep and a sense of wellbeing with the added bonus of less agitation, chronic pain and falls.

"The activity is supported by an evidenced-based exercise protocol developed by Dr Tim Henwood, a UQ exercise physiologist who specialises in aged care.

"The eldest participant in the group is 98 years of age and the youngest is 62, plus we've also got family and staff helping out with the program."

The Watermemories Swim Club project is a collaborative effort with Churches of Christ Care in Toowoomba and Crows Nest, Vision Health's exercise physiology clinic, a trained program instructor and volunteers from Toowoomba Tadpoles.

The Australian Government Initiative is funded through the Department of Health and Ageing Dementia Community Support Grants Program and is being conducted at Milne Bay's indoor Aquatic Centre, Toowoomba.

Source: University of Queensland