In a week that saw the country come to a halt because of freezing conditions and a sprinkling of snow it was heartening to know that two of our three golf sessions went ahead.
The snow got the better of us in Glasgow but we came back strongly in Harrogate with a bumper turnout of 25 golfers. Considering the frozen greens and icy conditions the quality of play and camaraderie was a joy to behold.
Freezing fog and temperatures of – 8 degrees looked certain to keep our golfers off the course at Lincoln on Thursday – but they were having none of it as they were determined to venture out and play a few holes.
For those of you that have played golf on a frosted course you will know what I mean when I say it’s more like a game of “ping-pong”, especially around the greens. A perfectly hit approach shot bounces twenty feet in the air off the frosted grass and disappears into the bushes never to be seen again. Playing from a bunker becomes more like hitting a shot off a concrete or tarmac surface. Putting becomes tricky as your ball gathers ice and becomes a mini snow ball as it heads (ever slower) towards the hole. Golf is a hard enough game to play at the best of times – let alone frosty conditions.
So some of you will say – why did you bother taking golfers living with dementia & Parkinson’s out in such conditions? The answer is simple.
No matter what the weather the carers need their weekly break. Our golfers look forward to it as they see it as the highlight of their week. So it’s our job to find a way, whenever possible to keep to our commitment of providing weekly sessions for the families we support. Our experience and expertise allows us to adapt to most challenges thrown at us and still deliver an enjoyable and rewarding session.
Keeping this commitment is much easier when you have people really enjoying themselves and overcoming challenges to make sure they get the most from their day out. I remember once on a rainy day suggesting that we might not venture out onto the course – my golfers were having none of it as they pulled on their waterproofs and headed out for their “weekly golfing fix”.
So when you reflect on the fact that despite the icy conditions and low temperatures we’ve still managed to give over 30 golfers the chance to have a great day out, and the carers a priceless break too, you can see why my team have a “Ready Break glow” around them knowing what a difference they’ve made to people’s lives this week.
Golf In Society proved this week how you can take on the big freeze and prevail.
Here’s a lovely guest blog from the Alzheimer’s Society following a recent visit to see the special work we’re doing to support families living with dementia.
Recently, Programme Partnerships Officer Steven McFadyen visited people with dementia who enjoy playing sport and being active together. He is looking to support leisure centres, gyms and sports clubs to be more dementia-friendly.
Here, Steven shares his experience of visiting a group of golfers who are living with dementia. He learns why activities, such as golf, are important not just for the players, but also their carers and family members.
Golfers and volunteers at Lincoln Golf Centre after a fun morning of golf.
What is Golf in Society?
I’d heard a lot about Golf in Society before I had the pleasure of visiting a golfing session in Lincoln.
This fantastic initiative is designed to give people living with dementia access to supported golf sessions in a local club.
By providing a person-centred approach, Golf in Society allows people with dementia to continue (or start) playing golf. They ensure the environment is safe, social and – most importantly – fun! A social event
On a weekly basis, golfers come together and enjoy a welcoming session. They spend time on the driving range, on the putting green and out on the course.
It was wonderful to see the golfers greeting one another. Together they have a cup of tea, some lunch and enjoy being outside. It’s an ideal way to spend a morning for anyone that likes sport! Initially, he didn’t want to go because he thought it was going to be competitive. There was an Alzheimer’s Society meeting at the golf club that opened him up to a conversation about golf. Then he came along and has loved it ever since.’ – Carer of person with dementia Golf ‘fore’ all
While the golfers took part in a group warm-up on the driving range, I spoke with their carers in the café. We talked about the golfing sessions and dementia-friendly sporting clubs.
Sat around the table, the carers shared a sense of peer support. They told stories and explained how Golf in Society helps not only the golfers, but also the carers.
These weekly sessions provide the opportunity to create a support network for carers. The partners and family members told me how this three-hour activity gives them and the golfers much-needed time to do their own thing. They both have the chance to relax and do things they love. The carers felt this was a huge positive in their lives.
They felt these supported golfing sessions have given their loved ones with dementia a new lease of life. It is something to look forward to every week that helps to increase social confidence and improve physical fitness. His fitness has improved enormously. He used to use the buggy to get around the course and now he walks and carries his own golf bag. We’ve even started doing our own walks too.’ – Wife and carer of person with dementia
Team photo with Golf in Society Founder, Anthony Blackburn.
Out on the golfing range
It was great to watch the golfers in action. Golf in Society maintains structure and consistency to the regular sessions. This is found to be beneficial for the participants with dementia.
I watched some target practice on the driving range where there were plenty of jokes and smiles.
We headed to the putting green where golfers took on long and short putt challenges. Then, they played a few holes on the course to make the most of the sunshine. It’s given my Dad a new lease of life.’ – Daughter of person with dementia A positive experience
Throughout the morning, golfers enjoyed the challenges, teamwork, high-fives and celebratory air-punches.
The differing levels of golfing experience didn’t matter. The session brought so much fun, laughter and positive experiences for everyone involved.
For the people living with dementia, this wasn’t about their diagnosis. It was about golf. It would be brilliant to see more projects take on a similar model and create dementia-friendly initiatives in their sports clubs. I don’t even think he registers it’s about his dementia, which is great, and it’s not about dementia. For him, it’s just about golf.’ – Wife and carer of person with dementia
In a week when the whole world is focussed on taking action to support families living with dementia and finding a cure for this devastating disease, it seems fitting to share with you an excellent dementia research project produced by students from the University of Lincoln.
In partnership with Golf In Society, Lincoln Golf Centre and with the excellent support of our dementia golfers and their carers, this excellent piece of research has been produced by final year sport’s science students.
The report makes very interesting reading and is the first in a wave of planned research projects that will be conducted in partnership with the University of Lincoln. Each research project will produce even deeper and detailed findings about the health, social and community impact of using sport as a meaningful intervention in dementia care.
The more evidence-based research we gather, the sooner we can use it to influence health & social care stakeholders to embrace pioneering interventions like ours..
Here’s the link to the full report… Hope you find it of interest.
Whilst the headline is pretty obvious – the reality is that we’re struggling to get people diagnosed early enough. Too often the early signs of dementia go unnoticed. It’s so important the we all become aware of changes in behaviour amongst our loved ones.
A lot of people think dementia is about becoming more forgetful and just a bi-product of ageing. It’s not – it’s a disease that affects the brain to which there is no current cure. Like all diseases, the sooner it’s diagnosed the better.
An early diagnosis helps ensure the right care plan is developed for the person with dementia. It also means that the right advice and support can be offered to their carers and family.
The challenge we face is that dementia affects people differently, making it impossible to apply “generic treatments”. What can work for one can be counter-productive for another.
The first step is to get GP’s to diagnose more quickly – not to just prescribe medication and ignore the real symptons.
Families can play a huge part by getting their loved ones to visit the GP and explain the symptoms. Don’t ignore them!! The tests can be undertaken and a diagnosis given very quickly. By getting GP’s to “test for dementia” straight away we can start diagnosing earlier.
Diagnosing earlier means care and support earlier. This early intervention will result in longer, happier lives for the whole family network.
Dementia support services are crucial to enjoying a full and enjoyable life with the disease. They can be made available very quickly after diagnosis and make families realise that life can go on.
There’s lots of great work being done to increase the choice and availability of support services. However, we’re still struggling as a society to get people diagnosed early enough. GP’s have a huge roll to play in this but we can do our bit by understanding the symptoms better.
Here’s a few to look out for;
Unpredictable mood swings
Forgetting things more often
Forgetting names of people close to them
Repeating phrases or stories in the same conversation
Reduced interest in activities
Increased difficulty in making choices
If your loved ones start developing these symptoms then get them to the GP straight away. An early diagnosis will makes such a difference to the health & happiness of the whole family.
Can you imagine how much easier living with dementia would be if there were more services available to families touched by dementia?
Just consider this for a moment – tomorrow you receive a call to say that a member of your family has been diagnosed with dementia. What would you do? How would you feel? Who could you ask for advice? What would you say? How could you help them?
Not sure? You’re not alone – thousands of families have to deal with this “shock” every year. The majority feel helpless and unsure how to cope. It’s extremely traumatic and can devastate family networks and put immense pressure on relationships.
One thing is clear – their lives are not over and there’s still much living to enjoy – even though it may not seem like it immediately after the diagnosis.
The most important thing to do is ask for help and support. The sooner you do this the better. Early intervention is crucial to maintaining healthy relationships and enjoyable lives.
That’s why getting people diagnosed with dementia into quality primary care services immediately is so important.
It will keep them living happier and healthier lives for longer. It will also provide much-needed advice to help them understand the disease and how it may affect their loved ones behaviour.
Immediately after diagnosis, health care professionals need to be referring families to the support networks and services available in their area. It will make a huge difference to their lives.
All too often referrals take too long.
Let’s start focussing on improving the speed of referral and move to a “seamless” transition from diagnosis to primary care.
And finally, let’s take some time to fully understand the services available to families so we can “refer with confidence”.
It’s deeply frustrating that our “media giants” recently published “sensational headlines” about how you can potentially contract dementia through blood transfusions and surgery. The level of risk is so minimal and unproven that it’s not even worth media time.
I suppose it’s true that “bad news sells”. I suppose there’s no chance of them running headlines and features about all the great work going on in our communities to make life better for families touched by dementia. That would fall into the “good news” category and probably not even make the paper.
The recent “sensationalist” headlines will have done nothing to help remove the stigma attached to dementia.
However, we, like many others will continue to make a positive contribution to people’s lives that have been devastated by dementia.
The only thing that’s really contagious helping people with dementia is catching their love, smiles, hugs, laughter, happiness and gratitude – That’s what makes it the most rewarding work you can ever do.
Through introducing the wonderful game of golf to families living with dementia, we’re making a positive contribution to their lives – It’s so rewarding!!
When someone is diagnosed with dementia it can be a devastating time in their lives. Unlike cancer, dementia has no cure or treatment plan. Many people think it’s the end of their life. They don’t know what to do, which way to turn or who to speak to.
The first days after diagnosis are critical to how people approach the future. They need compassion and humanity from people who are prepared to listen and support them through this challenging time.
At the moment we quite rightly talk about “living with dementia” not “suffering with dementia” which is an important distinction. However, I think we should take it one step further and start talking about “enjoyinglife with dementia”.
Once a person has come to terms with their diagnosis – which can take some time – formulating an “enjoyment plan” with them that encapsulates all the the things they “ENJOY DOING” could be the way to get them living a longer, happier life.
Early intervention is crucial. The sooner you get the enjoyment plan together the better. The longer people are left without help & support the harder it becomes for them to focus on a positive future.
The enjoyment plan works by identifying a number of “enjoyable activities” and plotting them into a weekly schedule. This generates a list of “enjoyable services” to be delivered throughout the week. These “enjoyable services” would be delivered by local service providers who specialise in helping people with dementia.
Not only would the enjoyment plan transform the lives of people diagnosed with dementia, it would provide much-needed respite for carers and families.
Imagine the positive impact this would have on families living with dementia every week.
The dementia gun is loaded – our ageing population is the prime target for this terrible disease. How are we going to help them “dodge” the dementia bullet?
The headline quote from Terry Pratchett sums up the issues we face as a society. Terry’s life was recently taken by dementia. We must try and find ways to cure this disease – otherwise it will take more of our loved ones from us.
Maybe we can’t yet – as the disease remains without a cure. However, we can help improve the lives of those living with the dementia.
It’s a proven fact that excercise, mental stimulation and social activity can slow the progression of the disease.
Surely the answer then is to combine the three into personal care packages. It’s got to be personalised as dementia affects everyone differently. What stimulates and excites one, can alienate and upset another.
Finding the right “primary care pathway” for people diagnosed with dementia is crucial – otherwise it will prevail in destroying the quality of life of those touched by the disease.
One critical aspects of the disease that is often overlooked – is the devastating impact it has on the families. That’s why its crucial they get the necessary support, help and advice to cope with the stress and strain of caring for their loved ones.
Coming to terms with losing someone you love whilst they’re still alive can be overwhelming. Seeing your dad, husband, wife or mum become a “stranger in your life” must be heart-breaking.
We’re here to help you through one of the most difficult and emotionally challenging journeys in your life.
Imagine if there was a service that combined physical, mental & social stimulation, tailored to the individual needs of every customer living with dementia?
Imagine if it was delivered in beautiful natural surroundings by compassionate people who wanted to make a positive contribution to their local community?
Imagine if they could do it whilst playing a game they love?
Imagine the difference it would make to families touched by dementia?
Well, such a service is being piloted by Golf In Society in Lincoln. Every Wednesday & Thursday at Lincoln Golf Centre, people living with dementia and their carers are being invited to come along and see how golf can improve their heath and happiness at their local club. The really good news is that it’s FREE for anyone diagnosed with dementia in the Lincoln area.