Golf gives a sense of purpose to dementia lives.

I find it tragic that so many golfers are forced to give up the game they love when diagnosed with dementia. I can understand why, but that doesn’t make it acceptable.

Put yourself in the shoes of a golfer who has just been diagnosed, which I often do.

Trying to deal with the devastating news that you have a terminal disease must be hard enough, but to then realise that your golfing days are numbered, especially for a person who’s life has revolved around their local club must be heart-breaking.

Just when their golf club, their “home away from home” needs to show compassion and encouragement that golf can still be enjoyed, all too often the reverse happens.

Too many golfers diagnosed with dementia are leaving the game early because the golf industry has not grasped the issue of how to engage and retain these life-long supporters of golf throughout their dementia journey.

With over 400 dementia golf days successfully delivered, I think we’ve earned the right to have a voice on this issue.

Everyone needs a sense of purpose in life. It’s no different for people with dementia. Arguably it’s even more important.

It’s not just ethically & socially the right thing to do, it’s critical to providing happier & healthier outcomes for families living with dementia. Interestingly, it could also be the lifeline that golf clubs need to survive and thrive.

If you consider that the average age of a club member is about 55 and that one in three people over 65 will develop dementia you can see the potential impact on club membership. However, it also provides a unique opportunity for those clubs willing to embrace dementia.

This week we’ve proved our commitment to transforming this tragic situation by supporting dementia golfers in Lincoln, Harrogate & Glasgow to have a great day out at their local golf club, just like they did before dementia came knocking at their door.

The good news is that golf clubs are busier and families are happier as a result of hosting & embracing our golf days.

When you watch the videos below you will see why our work is so rewarding and why we’re so passionate about educating the golf industry to embrace dementia across the UK aand beyond.

Golf is proving to be that sense of purpose that our customers needed in their life.

Putting Golf Into Parkinson’s Lives

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It’s amazing how a journey can start.

Two years ago as a caregiver,¬† I was visiting one of my Parkinson’s clients in Harrogate. Whilst getting him ready to go to his exercise class I was chatting with his wife. Somehow we got onto the topic of my social enterprise and the work we had started in Lincoln with our dementia golf days. She asked me ” Have you ever thought about doing something similar for people with Parkinson’s ?”

Talk about a “light bulb moment”. I’d never even considered testing whether golf could have the same positive impact on people with Parkinson’s.¬† Shortly afterwards we decided to approach a local golf club to see whether there was an appetite for a Parkinson’s pilot.¬† The answer was a resounding “yes”.

In partnership with Rudding Park Golf Club (Harrogate), the local Parkinson’s branch and a few golfing volunteers, we arranged the first golf session in April 2016. The rest as they say is history as the sessions have proved to be a resounding success.

It seems more than a co-incidence that on World Parkinson’s Day in April it will be two years to the days since we started the pilot. It’s been an inspirational two years and proved what a powerful therapy golf can be for people with Parkinson’s.

So why have the golf sessions been so popular?

Apart from the obvious benefits of physical exercise, the sessions have offered people the chance to learn new skills, meet new people, share experiences, build friendships and raise their self-esteem.

One of our Parkinson’s golfers said the reason she loved the sessions so much was that “no-one is judgemental, everyone is positive and I’m achieving things I never thought I was capable of”.

This is what you get when you treat someone as an individual, spend time teaching them the key skills they need to enjoy golf, offer encouragement and patience and set realistic goals that everyone can achieve. Oh, and by the way, when you MAKE IT FUN TOO.

As well as continuing with our fortnightly golf days, the year ahead will see some of the golfers we’ve coached progress their “golfing careers” at other local courses, where they will be given the opportunity and support to further develop their skills and golfing friendships.

None of this would have been possible without the fantastic support of Rudding Park, their members and some amazing people with Parkinson’s who refuse to “give in” to the disease, still wanting to enjoy a full and active life for as long as possible.

Way back in 2016 when we began one of our Parkinson’s golfers arrived in a wheelchair. Two years on he now walks around the course unaided and enjoys his golf as much as the rest of us.

This is just one of the many personal success stories in what has been an inspirational¬† journey…. and we’re not finished yet!

 

 

 

Putting A Sparkle Back Into A Dementia Life

 

Who would have thought that getting a little white ball into a little white hole could bring so much pleasure?

This is a great video from one of our golf days that proves that when you “re-ignite a golfing life” how much pleasure it brings to someone who thought their golfing days were over.

Even for people who have never played golf before, the enjoyment of being part of a team, learning new skills and the sense of achievement they get when they play a good shot is so uplifting to them.

Knowing that we’re making it all possible through our pioneering dementia golf days is so rewarding.

We can’t change their dementia diagnosis but we can put a little sparkle back into their life when they’re with us…. so that’s exactly what we do.