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Dementia Friendly Swimming

/ Health & Fitness

A FORMER military police officer, who is now living with Parkinson’s disease and dementia, enjoys vital weekly exercise sessions at Louth’s Meridian pool.

Harry Wise’s wife, Moira, ensures that her husband attends the weekly swims – every Monday at Meridian Leisure Centre.
The couple, who have been married for 45 years, faced an emotional and physical battle when Harry developed Parkinson’s disease, followed by the onset of dementia three years ago – the two conditions together are known as lewy body dementia.

Harry benefits from the weightless, water-based exercise sessions at Meridian, which are run by centre operators the Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture – with support from the Rotary Club of Louth.

“For Harry, this offers him a chance to be independent in the water, with the opportunity to stand by himself and move,” explained Moira, who is the main carer for her husband.

Moira explained that it is not just the exercise that is beneficial – but the social side too. Before the sessions, Harry would not want to eat out in public, as in the earlier stages of the condition he was aware of the problems he was having.

“During the onset of the condition Harry was aware of his limitations and that did make him reluctant to go out. But now we can enjoy eating out again as this has improved his confidence,” said Moira.

During his career as a military police officer, Harry was engaged in some of the most serious and complex cases with both the army and the RAF, travelling across the world – with Singapore his favourite destination.

“At that time, he always had time for playing sports and loved a whole range, so to be able to see him have this freedom of movement again is wonderful,” added Moira.

The sessions, which are taken by professional instructor Mags Hutchings and supervised by volunteer Vanessa Pilny, are open to all those living with dementia and their carers – who can also swim if they wish.

Louth Rotary President Bill Wood and chair of community and vocation Diana Broadmeadow visited one of the recent sessions.

“As an organisation, we are committed to helping such projects and it is wonderful to see the people here enjoying both the pool and the social side of things afterwards,” said Diana.

The swim sessions are available every Monday. Vanessa is in the centre’s café/reception area from 11.40am for a 12pm start. After an hour in the pool, lunch and refreshments can be purchased from the café.
People are welcome to go along or for more information go to our website page here.

Meanwhile, the next Rotary-supported leisure walk for dementia sufferers and carers is on Sunday May 20, meeting at the Hallington end of Hubbards Hills at 2pm and finishing with coffee and cake at Meridian Leisure Centre.

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