Buddy up to encourage dementia sufferers to get walking in the Forest

Buddy up to encourage dementia sufferers to get walking in the Forest

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: May 09, 2015

A progamme of walks designed specifically for those living with dementia and their carers is to be extended following a successful pilot.
Get Active In The Forest's dementia walks are held weekly in the glorious surroundings of Rosliston Forestry Centre, delivered in partnership with South Derbyshire CVS and its befriending service.
The walks began in March on the back of evidence that walking has been shown to significantly improve the lifestyles of sufferers, and were scheduled to run until the end of May.
However, the feedback from those who have taken part has been so positive that the walks are to become a regular fixture at 10.30am each Tuesday.
Get Active in the Forest manager Debbie Chesterman said: "With the increasing number of people living with dementia we were getting more and more requests about whether we would cater for these sort of walks.
"We wanted to create an opportunity in a safe environment that would specifically cater for those living with dementia.
"We must stress that carers have to be present too but, with the additional staff and walk leaders we provide, it does give the carers a bit of a break. There's always a nice hot drink waiting at the end too.
"The walks link in with The Ramblers' Every Step Counts project that targets certain groups and staff have completed dementia awareness training.
"The numbers have been steadily growing so now we want to promote it to a wider audience."
Dementia describes different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common of these conditions, which are all usually progressive and eventually severe.
Symptoms include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech and understanding, and there is no known cure.
There are thought to be around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to more than a million by 2025. One in six people over the age of 80 have it.
According to research, regular brisk walking is so effective in warding off dementia that it far surpasses any benefits from drugs currently available.
Walking not only boosts memory but also improves the walker's brain function, experts say.
Louise Scott, Connect Befriending co-ordinator at South Derbyshire CVS, said: "We are pleased to be able to work in partnership with Rosliston Forestry Centre and Get Active In The Forest to support people with dementia to enjoy walking as part of a group.
"Some of our volunteer befrienders act as walk buddies who walk alongside a person with dementia. Their company and ability to gently encourage and guide provides invaluable help to enable people to enjoy the forest.
"The walks are in a lovely location and rounded off by the all-important chat over a cuppa!
"Our volunteers offer an informal and friendly support to vulnerable adults in various ways through home visits, telephone befriending and buddying. Being a walk buddy is another strand of support available.
"People who are caring, compassionate and willing to give some time can find out more about becoming a volunteer walk buddy or befriender by calling the CVS on 01283 219761."
More information about dementia walks at Rosliston is available by calling 01283 563483.
For advice on dementia call the Alzheimer's Society National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122.

What a brilliant idea. There must be many,  who want to go for a walk with someone else, for company, and perhaps to talk things over.
Many simply would not go into a wood, because the noises could spook them, as I found a few years ago. Since then I have come to terms with the noises of the wind and trees, but some may never come to terms with it.


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