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Dementia residents at a care home in Chesham enjoy al-fresco swimming lessons

| July 19, 2023

Sally takes a swimming lesson in the pool. (Image supplied on behalf of Berkley Care Group by Townsend Communications)

Staff at Portobello Place, a luxury all-inclusive care home in Chesham, have begun a swimming lessons for their residents living with dementia.

Often, for people living with dementia, swimming can be scary. It can seem fearful as the water is not visible and they’re mobility is already hindered. The home however, which is part of the Berkley Care Group, has seen significant success conducting swimming lessons at Chesham Moor Outdoor Pool. Residents are eager and confident to get into the water alongside Portobello Place’s staff.

Prior to her becoming a resident at the home, Sally used to swim 100 lengths a day. However, since being diagnosed with dementia, she told her daughters that she had forgotten how to swim and felt embarrassed that she had lost a skill that she enjoyed so much. It was heart-breaking for her daughters to hear, who worked together with the team at Portobello Place to encourage Sally to get back in the pool. It has brought great joy to Sally as well as her relatives, who are very happy to see her swimming again.

Anxiety is a common symptom for dementia, affecting a patient’s ability to socialize. Studies have shown that swimming is an effective way to alleviate stress and anxiety. It offers a relaxing way for residents to get involved in activities outside the home, engaging with others. The staff at Portobello Place have commented on the positive impact it has had on resident’s mood whilst the hour long low-impact lessons also offer a great source of exercise for those whose mobility is impaired.

In addition, research at Cambridge University found a link between cold water swimming and a reduced risk of dementia. Swimming in cold water causes a process called recreational hypothermia in which ‘cold shock’ neuro-protective proteins are produced and released. These proteins are naturally found in the brains of healthy individuals but are absent in dementia patients.

Moving forward, swimming classes are being offered to both dementia and non-dementia residents, as the home welcomes plans to make them a weekly activity.

Catherine Emekwuo, General Manager at Portobello Place, said: ‘We are thrilled to say that outdoor swimming has been a great success amongst our residents. It is testament to our home’s commitment to making sure our guests are not just living well but they are thriving!

Sally’s recent classes have filled her with happiness, as she was an avid swimmer before being diagnosed with dementia. It’s been great to see her gain back her confidence in the water and has encouraged other residents to get involved.

As long as there is interest we will continue to hold swimming classes every week as we believe the effects to be hugely positive and beneficial for our residents.

*Source of information : Press release supplied on behalf of Berkley Care Group by Townsend Communications.

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