Throughout 2014, Seattle Parks and Recreation will pilot a variety of recreation programming geared to persons who live with memory loss. These “dementia–friendly” activities are intended to enhance the lives of those living with early stage memory loss. Care partners are also welcome to participate. Programs offer participants a chance to engage, create, learn, and be active, all in a stimulating and supportive environment.
Seattle Parks and Recreation will work with other innovative community partners such as Greenwood Senior Center, the Alzheimer’s Association, Aegis on Madison, Elderwise and Outdoors for All, to offer a variety of dementia-friendly recreation programs such as a vigorous fitness class at Miller Community Center, watercolor painting at the Seattle Japanese Garden and Volunteer Park, a snowshoe hike near Snoqualmie Pass, a memory loss walking group at Woodland Park Zoo, and a volunteer program at Cherry Street Food Bank.
“The Memory Loss Zoo Walk is designed to get us out into the fresh air so we can have fun and socialize, and to help us feel we’re part of a supportive community,” says one participant who lives with memory loss.
Dementia-friendly recreation programs are being piloted in response to the growing number of people living with dementia in the community, and the recognition that persons with dementia can lead full and meaningful lives.
“The food bank volunteer program is a fun way for my dad to keep engaged and be social without any expectations or pressure,” says the daughter of a man living with memory loss.
Over 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to triple by the year 2050. Many who are diagnosed feel fearful, lost and alone. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many living with memory loss are finding opportunities to stay connected and enjoy life.
“It’s exciting that we’re working with community partners to expand opportunities for people living with memory loss,” says Parks Recreation Specialist Mari Becker. “Even more exciting is that people living with memory loss are engaged in designing the kind of programs they want to see happen. And it’s exciting to be part of a movement, momentia, telling a new story about what it means to live with dementia. For too long, the dementia story has been all about fear, loss of purpose, and isolation. The new dementia story is about hope, meaning and connection. And the entire community can play a part in making that happen!”
The concept for dementia-friendly recreation programs was developed through the leadership of Lifelong Recreation (recreation programs for people age 50+) alongside a task force of staff and community members, including people living with dementia and their care partners. Seattle Parks and Recreation is proud to participate in a citywide coalition dedicated to building a dementia-friendly Seattle.
To get more information, to volunteer or to register for a program, please contact RecreationSpecialist Mari Becker, 206-684-4664, firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information “like us” on Life Long Recreation Facebook page and stay-up-to-date on programs such as Minds in Motion, Memory Loss Zoo Walk and Snowshoe Hike or visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/seniors/index.htm