Pete Middleton is living with Alzheimer’s Disease, and has been using the Feel Good Folder to help improve his physical activity levels. Pete reflects on the impact the Folder has had for him, and how it can work for other people living with dementia.
I've always been a fit and active person up until my diagnosis. In fact, the last 12 years of my working life I spent as a police community support officer walking around on the beat, roughly about 10 miles a day. Before that, I was in the armed forces and I always kept myself fit.
I live in Northamptonshire, and I've been living with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease for nearly five years now. I'm quite active in the dementia community, which is good for me. I feel it keeps me sharp and I’m keen to try to stave off the effects of this condition for as long as I can.
So after my diagnosis and forced retirement, coupled with lockdown, everything was done at home. I then had a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, during which time I became insulin dependent, and I feel like I let it all slip. I lost my fitness, and I wanted to find a way to get a level of fitness back.
Getting started with the Feel Good Folder
The Feel Good Folder prototype was brought to us at the Dementia Voice national group, so that we could take a look and get involved. When I saw that there was a pack available, with lots of ideas in it and different ways to use it, I thought there's got to be something in there that works for me.
Buy the Feel Good Folder
I found that it contains a broad guide on how you might like to use the package. There's a diary section, so for those people who like writing down things, and documenting what they do, it's a blessing.
There's also a wallchart, so that you can plot your progress over time and create your own recipe for keeping fit. What was best for me was a set of cards called the Movement Deck. Each card contains an exercise or movement, which I thought was a brilliant idea.
The benefits of moving more with dementia
I had a go with this first version and was pleased to give my feedback to help the Innovation Team develop the next version. I found that the Movement Deck worked really well for me.
I used to do circuits a lot for my training, so that’s how I used these cards. I go through the pack, shuffle them up and repeat the movements whenever I can. No two workouts are the same!
It’s helped me to fit in more movements in my day, so even when I’m at my desk in meetings I can be moving my legs and going on my tiptoes.
The cards are really good at sparking your interest, and I like that there are blank cards where you can add in your favourite movements.
For me, the benefits have been manifold. It’s been great to get more mobility in my arms and improve my range since having a shoulder replacement a while ago. Now I can do things I couldn’t do before, like scratching parts of my back I wasn’t able to reach!
Being able to achieve a goal or see that difference has increased my happiness and my self-respect because I’m proud of myself. I even tell my wife, “look at what I can do!” That feeling is priceless.
Ultimately, the benefit for the long term has been my mindset and my outlook, which have genuinely changed. I’m pretty set in my ways, but now I’m looking all the time to see what I can do each day to keep a little bit of an edge on my fitness.
Taking the Feel Good folder to my local dementia group
I found that there was no right or wrong way to use the Feel Good Folder, it’s just something that gives you options to make doing physical activity work for you.
I took my Feel Good Folder to my local dementia group to show everyone, because I’ve noticed that doing exercise in a group might not work for everyone.
Some people feel self-conscious or are worried about their balance, and can get put off doing exercise. But with the Feel Good Folder, you can use it at home and at your own pace, and you can feel good about yourself. You can also use it with others if that’s what works for you.
It’s all about having choices, and the Feel Good Folder presents the user with options to tailor their own way to get a better level of fitness. That’s why I’d recommend everyone to take a look!
Be active and Feel Good
The Feel Good Folder is for people living with dementia who want to make a positive change to feel good by getting moving.