Taking part in a ‘home Olympics’ made a man with dementia feel part of a team... and competitive again!

Tommy Dunne in Liverpool, aged 68 and living with Alzheimer’s, tells us about being part of the Home Games.

The Home Games was an opportunity to bring people with various long-term health conditions together in a ‘home Olympics’, all on Zoom. 

The training gave me a sense of purpose during lockdown, and it bought out the competitiveness! I never thought I’d be competitive with other people again. Your team relies on you and your discipline. 

It was absolutely amazing to be part of it. I felt like a part of society again – contributing to a team again.

Tommy Dunne

Feelgood factor 

You trained for every event, and you had to do two disciplines as part of the final. It’s the taking part that counts but winning always helps, it brings that out in you! 

‘Baked Bean Can Do’ was lifting bags of cans of beans, and ‘Step Ascent’ involved foot-high step-ups. ‘Pillow Javelin’ was throwing a cushion from one end of the garden (I caught the top of the fence – luckily it didn’t go into next door’s). 

The ‘Plant Pot Hurdles’ were made from flowerpots and canes. Four laps of that up and down the garden. I was up against a 30-year-old and I didn’t lose – it was a dead heat! 

Every week before the final, Paralympians Lauren Rowles and Sarah Storey trained you in different disciplines.

I was amazed at how fit you can get just doing those short exercises. It released that feelgood factor and endorphins lifted your spirits to give you something to look forward to for the next week. 

Lauren and Sarah were so inspiring. To think they’ve done the real thing – it gives you a sense of the training they must go through, the energy every single day to get to the level they are.

Tommy Dunne

Change perceptions 

I want to take the fear out of dementia, change the perception that people with dementia can’t learn anything new. We’ve got to have something to get out of bed for, to have a purpose.  

Physical activity is a must for us. Your body has got to be healthy to help your mind.

Get up, go out, go for a walk. You can still play golf. Watching football is taking part, gets the adrenalin going, being socially engaged with other people – talking about old games is great. 

With dementia, you’ve got to work twice as hard just to stand still. If you stop, you’re going to go backwards.

The Home Games gave me an opportunity to see other people’s abilities. I don’t see their disabilities, I see what they do and what they can do. 

The pandemic has given society a taste of what social isolation is like. People with dementia don’t need sympathy, we need empathy and support. 

We Are Undefeatable

The Home Games was part of We Are Undefeatable, a campaign supporting people with a range of long-term conditions, including dementia.

Get moving

Dementia together magazine

Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now

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