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Walking and World Alzheimer’s Day
Published: 20th September 2011
World Alzheimer’s Day - 21st September - raises awareness of and draws attention to this common form of dementia.
Dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 years of age and one in six people over 80 years of age (Dementia UK report, Alzheimer's Society updated 2010).
Walking reduces risk
Health walks have a part to play here because physical activity, and walking in particular, can significantly help to prevent dementia. Physical activity can enhance and protect our brain function. Research has shown that regular exercise reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease by up to 40%.
In South Gloucestershire, the Bradley Stoke Alzheimer’s Society group has a weekly activity session and, as part of this, has started to link with local health walks.
Working together, they have set up an informal signposting system by which dementia advisors identify clients that could benefit from coming on the walks. An information sheet has been devised for carers and all the paperwork can be completed by the carers before the client comes to the walk. Once there, they are allocated a ‘buddy’ – a volunteer walk leader or experienced walker - so that the client makes a new connection and the carer, if they wish, can have some respite time.
We are just starting this work with dementia clients. Our health walk leaders are open to it and it is a way for people with Alzheimer’s to join the walks without everyone else needing to be aware of it.
Alex Hayes, co-ordinator, South Gloucestershire Walking for Health
Every September, the Alzheimer's Society raises funds through Memory Walks all across the UK in stately homes, race courses, country parks etc. Routes range from one to 26 miles and this year over 20,000 walkers are involved.
Health walk schemes throughout the country are putting on Memory Walks – eg The Lake District Flagship Memory Walk on 25th September. For details of your nearest Memory Walk search by region in our Events section.
Ray Dernie, walk leader with WfH Step2It Langold, has, for the past six years, organised the Bassetlaw Memory Walk in remembrance of his wife. A huge affair with marquee, stalls and a brass band, Ray starts work on it at least six months beforehand.
We’ve got a good team helping with the Memory Walk this year – mainly people from the Alzheimer’s Society but also some carers who come on the Langold Health Walks. It’s a pleasant 2-mile walk around a lake and people in wheelchairs, with dementia etc are able to take part.
Ray Dernie, co-ordinator, WfH Step2It Langold