Tracey, who has dementia, has seen an improvement in her health and wellbeing since going to the gym. Tracey hopes other people with dementia will benefit from physical activities, like she has, by visiting sports clubs and leisure centres.
Tracey was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) when she was in her mid-forties. She has asthma and is recovering from a stroke that has left some weakness down her left side. But that doesn’t stop Tracey from being active and inspiring others.
Tracey's fitness journey
Tracey started going to the gym after she was referred for a 12-week physiotherapy health programme. She now goes three times per week and gets additional support from a personal trainer.
‘Going to the gym gives me the energy to do more, and I’ve lost weight.’
Tracey generally goes to the gym alone and she follows a specific programme for a routine. Her programme includes: weights, squats, balance work, treadmill, cross trainer and stretches. She likes to vary her programme because she sometimes loses concentration as a result of dementia.
Since she has started going to the gym, Tracey is making great progress – she has gone from walking with two sticks to walking with only one, which is having a huge effect on her wellbeing.
Educating while exercising
The personal trainer at Tracey's gym supports and believes in her. Tracey shares her experiences and teaches her trainer about dementia and how it affects her.
Here, Tracey explains some of the work that went behind a new dementia-friendly sport and physical activity guide:
'I had an interview with the manager of a sports centre and spoke of some of the difficulties I have. We walked around the gym, and I explained some pitfalls that some people might have problems with, like shiny floors, too much noise, etc. I adapt very well, but some people find it hard to.'
Tracey said, 'Hopefully this work will encourage others to get involved in physical activities. And help organisations understand the difficulties that people may have.'
5 ways Tracey suggests a leisure centre can improve experiences for people with dementia
- Ensure that staff understand what dementia is and the ways that they can support people – for example to use technology or to identify their locker.
- Support people to use equipment that can require lots of co-ordination or balance – for example people with dementia might need further explanation and more time to learn to use machines like a cross trainer.
- A person with dementia may not be able to learn to use new equipment or retain information about it for the next session.
- Allow people time to start slow and build up their confidence to achieve more.
- A gym can be a loud and overwhelming environment, so having quiet times or quiet areas can help people with dementia to enjoy themselves.
Get a copy of the new guide
Find out how the sport and physical activity sector can be more dementia-friendly from our free guide.