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Minds in Motion will help people living with Alzheimer’s and their care partners in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, and Parkland County.

The nine-week program that keeps both patients and care partners active starts in February.

Once a week, people living with Alzheimer’s/dementia and their care partners can get active both physically, mentally and socially.

It involves about 50 minutes of a physical low-impact exercise run by a trained fitness instructor. It’s then followed by an hour and 10 minutes of social and cognitive interaction which includes brain teasers, games, board games etc. The latter part of the program is also run by trained facilitators.

The program runs in B.C. and Ontario and has come to Alberta for the first time with the pilot project underway in Sherwood Park.

The program is being run by Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta – Northwest Territories.

“Part of the goal is to bring activities that people with Alzheimer’s and their care partners can do at home together, some of them are inter-generational so grandkids and people of all ages can get involved,” said Shayna Bowling, program coordinator for Minds in Motion.

She said one of the things we know is being physically and cognitively active helps delay the onset of dementia and slow the progression.

The program starts on Feb. 6 and runs once a week, every Tuesday between 1 and 3 p.m. A second round starts on April 10 and goes for another nine weeks.

The program runs in partnership with the Tri Leisure Centre and the support of a grant from the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation. Care partners attend the program for free. People living with dementia pay $63 for members at Tri-Leisure and $81 for non-members.

The program also aims to ban the stigma around the disease in recreational centres or seniors centres. She said people believe that someone living with Alzheimer’s may not be able to participate – people may not believe that intentionally – so the program aims to raise awareness. This would also encourage people with Alzheimer’s participate and make them feel comfortable.

Since the program is running in public spaces such as recreation centres, it will bring awareness to the wider community. It may even help staff at recreation centres be trained to run such programs for people with Alzheimer’s and their care partners.

That’s not all the support available in the Tri-Region for those caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s/dementia.

There are caregiver support groups that help care partners find a way to connect with others and ask questions.

The Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta – Northwest Territories runs drop in support groups in various communities including one in Spruce Grove.

The support group, a drop in and free of charge network, runs third Tuesday of every month between 7 and 9 p.m. at the Good Samaritan Society on King Street.

About 16-20 care partners attend the group on average, although numbers vary, said Bowling.

The group may be useful for care partners caring for someone with Alzheimer’s at any stage.

“Some care partners might be caring for someone in later stage or earlier stage so it’s an opportunity to get support for people who are in the same stage as you are or who are dealing with something at a later stage that may give you support as you are moving,” she said.

For more information on either Minds in Motion or the support group, contact the Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta – Northwest Territories office in Edmonton at 780-488-2266.

To register for Minds in Motion, contact the TransAlta Tri-Leisure Centre at 780-960-5080.

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