• Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

North East Connected

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Highlighting the importance of dementia friendly swimming

An 86-year-old woman from Chester-le-Street has told how dementia friendly swimming sessions have proved a lifeline.

Keen swimmer Margaret Huggon began attending the sessions at Chester-le-Street Leisure Centre last October.

The facility, which is run by Durham County Council, was one of the flagship centres for the ASA’s Dementia Friendly Swimming project, launched in February 2015.

Since then weekly sessions have been developed both in Chester-le-Street and at Teesdale Leisure Centre with plans to roll out to a further four pools by the end of the year.

Margaret has enjoyed swimming since she was a child and was delighted to be able to get back in the water once again.

She said: “My husband’s job always meant we moved around the country a lot. But regardless of where we lived, I always made time to go down to my local pool.

“I look forward to coming along each week for a swim – it’s all round exercise and is perfect because I feel weightless in the pool. I don’t feel like I’m exercising even though all my joints and muscles are active.

“Taking part in the weekly dementia friendly swimming sessions isn’t just about staying active though – there is a great social aspect too.

“There are a group of ladies who regularly spend time in the pool and I find them really welcoming and enjoy having a chat. I’m 86 now but I hope I’ll still be swimming well into my 90s!”

Margaret is joined on her weekly swimming trips by staff from Home Instead Senior Care.

Annette Connor from the care provider said: “We are delighted to enable Margaret to meet old friends and take part in an activity that she has always enjoyed and missed.

“Margaret takes great pride in telling everyone that she is a better swimmer than her care giver Rhonda.”

Deborah Breen, Durham County Council’s specialist interventions officer (dementia), said Margaret’s experience highlights how important these sessions are.

She explained: “There are around 6,800 people living with dementia in County Durham and they could all benefit so much from keeping active and socialising with others.

“It is a real honour for County Durham to be one of the flagship areas for the Dementia Friendly Swimming project, which links in really well with other work taking place in the county to create dementia friendly communities.”

The dementia friendly swimming session take place in Chester-le-Street between 11am and 12pm every Wednesday – an alternative changing area is available if required. Sessions are open to people living with dementia and their carers.

Sessions are also available at Teesdale Leisure Centre between 10.45am and 11.45am every Tuesday.

By admin