Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

The Contribution of Physical Activity to Social Connectivity and Wellbeing in Older Adults Living with Dementia

Professor Elizabeth Pike; Dr. Elspeth Mathie; Professor Claire Goodman | University of Hertfordshire
Competition Sponsor: UK Research & Innovation
Awardee Year: 2020

This proposal aims to understand the experiences, benefits, and constraints on provision, of physical activity provision for adults living with dementia.  The objectives of the study are to provide:

  • mapping of the existing provision of physical activity programmes in Dementia Friendly Communities (DFCs) across England
  • an overview of how people affected by dementia can maintain and take up physical activity and if this is a platform for other community-oriented work
  • evidence of what will enable the delivery of physical activity programmes for people living with dementia
  • a report on the experiences and subjective wellbeing of adults living with dementia who participate in physical activity programmes and how effectiveness can be measured
  • guidance on activities that benefit people affected by dementia from different cultural groups and at different points of the disease trajectory.
  • best practice recommendations, particularly to ensure that programmes and services are equitable, addressing stigma, enabling choice, and promoting social connectivity for older adults living with dementia.

There is convincing evidence of the physical, psychological, and social health benefits of engaging in physical activity for adults living with dementia (see Bangsbo et al, 2019; Pike, 2019).  In particular, that physical activity can positively impact on social isolation and loneliness, and mediate the relationship between loneliness, self-rated health and wellbeing (Chen et al, 2018; Schrempft et al, 2019).  For people affected by dementia there is promising evidence of the shared benefit of family carers and people living with dementia engaging together in physical activity (Lowery et al, 2014; Quinn and Toms, 2019).  However, survey data indicates that older adults living with dementia find it particularly challenging to engage in many organised physical activities (Sport England, 2019). English policy has identified Dementia Friendly Communities (DFCs) as an approach to community engagement that supports people affected by dementia to live well.

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